Friday, January 18, 2013

Black-backed Woodpeckers

Last weekend Tim had gone into the Duck Lake Burn in the North-central UP and found a pair of Black-backed Woodpeckers in a less cut-over section while running out of light one afternoon.  We went back to try to go through a semi-accessible area more thoroughly.  It didn't take long to walk into a male.  Check out his three toes.

There were also good numbers of Downy and Hairy woodpeckers.  The smaller cousins tended to feed higher in the trees.  The heavier bark lower on the tree required more solid emphatic tapping than the more irregular pecks of the downies and less so the hairies.

The heavier pecks could knock off a fair bit of bark pretty quickly.  Here's a montage going clockwise from upper left of one of the males from today.

This was the first time I've seen this species in about 10 years since finding my lifer pair in a fresh burn randomly along a highway in South Dakota's Black Hills.  These were very tame and tended to feed quite methodically, sometimes peering for quite a while at a hole or scaling, presumably waiting for a glimpsed grub to come into view.  Here it managed to impale one.

The flight feathers on this bird are duller than are the mantle.  Per Howell's Molt 2010 woodpeckers (including juveniles) moult all their feathers in the fall (though primary coverts are frequently retained) so all these feathers should be fairly fresh.  I'll have to look up in Pyle when I get home whether this bird can be aged.

Here's a female.  The birds were remarkably tame.  Presumably that comes from some combination of living in remote areas where they don't encounter people very often as well as inhabiting burned areas with little cover leading to holding still as a strategy to avoid threats. 
This along with Western Kingbird, Little Blue Heron, and Sabine's Gull are the last regularly occuring birds I still needed for Michigan.  This was probably the easiest of those 4.  It'd be nice to go back tomorrow to look for Three-toed, but it looks like we'll be weathered out.

No comments: