While wandering around Campbell Valley Park (Langley, BC, Canada) a while ago, I came upon this Downy woodpecker, pecking at the leaf buds of these plants.
Downy Woodpeckers are often a quick view as they move through the trees, so this was a rare treat. I watched him for about 10 minutes.
There are five common woodpeckers in this the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.
The splendid Pileated Woodpecker is the largest at 16 – 18 inches long.
Next comes the Northern Flicker.
This lovely bird uses tapping to claim a territory and a mate and the noisier the better, so these are the ones you hear banging on a metal chimney or a vent in the spring.
The Hairy Woodpecker is similar to the Downy, but slightly larger and has a longer beak.
Finally, if you look at big cedar trees, you can sometimes see a row of horizontal beak sized “poke holes” about an inch apart. And there are often more rows, above and below. I always wondered what these were until, on an uneventful walk around Campbell Valley park, I spotted a red flash landing on a large cedar.
This was my first sighting of a Red-Breasted Sapsucker, who completes my list of woodpeckers. He parked on the main trunk, completely uninterested in me, and worked along a row of horizontal “poke holes”, presumably “sap-sucking”! There was a series of six rows up and down the bark and I watched him for fifteen minutes before I left him to it.
As I have mentioned in other articles, this is one of those magic moments, where a usually rare and elusive bird shows up for a photo-op! As mentioned in other articles, the more you go birding, the luckier you get and these moments occur.
So, If you hear tapping close by, or see a red flash, stop, wait and listen. You will often find “Woody”!
Other birding posts by Colin Rankin that you might enjoy:
What Makes The Falkland Islands Worth Visiting? (Albatross, penguins, caracaras)
A Cluster of Buntings (Lasuli and Snow Buntings)
A Pleasant Surprise (The Cape May Warbler)
Even More LBJ’s – The Bewick’s Wren (Little Brown Jobs)
Hey! That’s My Fish! (Ospreys in British Columbias)