Thursday, December 6, 2012

Wild Wednesday (a day late!)

Sorry the Wild Wednesday post is a day late - I forgot what day it was!

Here's a male Red Bellied woodpecker on the left, smaller female Hairy woodpecker on the right, and a  Tufted Titmouse (sex unknown, I can't tell them apart) on the top.

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Here's the two woodpeckers again, this time with a Carolina Wren above.  I can't tell the difference between males and females in those either.

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I think this is the same male Red Bellied woodpecker, but who knows!

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Hairy woodpeckers - male on the right, female on the left.  Note the male has a small red patch on his head, the female doesn't.  I put fresh suet in the left side feeder the day before, these birds sure can eat!

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In the first few photos I had clasps on the feeders.  I'd put regular suet cakes out and the raccoons had a rather loud party on the deck in the middle of the night, then ran off with the cakes and half the feeders.  I switched to hot pepper suet but left the clasps on for a few extra weeks just to make sure.   Mammals are sensitive to capsaicin (what makes the peppers "hot") but birds can happily consume it, so one paw on the hot pepper suet discouraged the raccoons mighty quick.

We have smaller Downy woodpeckers, which look very similar to the Hairy woodpeckers, but are a few inches smaller with shorter beaks.  They tend to shy away from the feeders when there's other birds about.  The Red Bellied woodpecker pretty much doesn't move for anyone.

We have Red Headed woodpeckers in the woods, but they don't seem to come to the feeder (they're omnivores, and we have plenty of insects and mice for them to devour).   They're a threatened species, Photo below courtesy conservewildlifenj.org.  


We also have the very large - 19 inch! - Pileated woodpecker.  Photo below courtesy Cornell Lab of Ornithology's AllAboutBirds.org website.


There's a "sound" feature on this site, so you can hear what birds' calls sound like, as well as their very loud drumming.   We don't see the Pileated woodpecker often - although whenever I see one flying it never fails to impress me - but we hear them all the time, drumming and calling.   

Bird watching is a great activity, from the comfort of your own home, walking through a park, or strolling through the woods.  A simple field guide will help you learn to identify birds, particularly if you find one that's for your area.  I use the Birds of New Jersey Field Guide by Stan Tekiela.  Ian carried this book around from the time he was old enough to walk, and we've gone through multiple copies over the past few years.  It's color coded, so you can easily go to a section and begin to figure out which bird is which.

I hope you've enjoyed the pictures.  Thanks for looking!

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