Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"Downy Woodpecker" - Photo of the Day - February 16th, 2010

Downy Woodpecker - Photo of the Day - February 16th, 2010
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"Downy Woodpecker"

A downy woodpecker perches amidst the barren branches of a local woodland during winter.

Captured in the river valley of the Old Man River, near the Helen Schuler Nature Center in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.

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he Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) is the smallest woodpecker in North America. This diminutive woodpecker is a familiar sight at backyard feeders and in parks and woodlots, where it joins flocks of chickadees and nuthatches, barely outsizing them. An often acrobatic forager, this black-and-white woodpecker is at home on tiny branches or balancing on slender plant galls, sycamore seed balls, and suet feeders.

Learning to tell the difference between the Downy Woodpecker and it’s larger almost look-alike cousin the Hairy Woodpecker is one of the first challenges faced by most beginning birders in Canada and the United States.
It is actually fairly simple once one knows what to look for.

The Downy’s outer tail feathers are barred with black, unlike the Hairy Woodpecker’s, which are all white. The Downy is about 6 cm smaller than the Hairy, measuring only 15 to 18 cm from the tip of its bill to the tip of its tail. And the Downy’s bill is shorter than its head, whereas the Hairy’s bill is as long as or longer than its head length. The Downy’s name refers to the soft white feathers of the white strip on the lower back, which differ from the more hairlike feathers on the Hairy Woodpecker.

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