The folks in the Riverwalk Bird Club don't just watch birds. The group includes some excellent photographers.
Nooga.com Outdoors is happy to share their great photos by featuring a Bird of the Week.
This week, we feature a downy woodpecker, taken by Bret Douglas.
The active little downy 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. Downies and their larger lookalike, the hairy woodpecker, are one of the first identification challenges that beginning birdwatchers master.
—In winter, downy woodpeckers are frequent members of mixed species flocks. Advantages of flocking include having to spend less time watching out for predators and better luck finding food from having other birds around.
—Male and female downy woodpeckers divide up where they look for food in winter. Males feed more on small branches and weed stems, and females feed on larger branches and trunks. Males keep females from foraging in the more productive spots. When researchers have removed males from a woodlot, females have responded by feeding along smaller branches.
—The downy woodpecker eats foods that larger woodpeckers cannot reach, such as insects living on or in the stems of weeds. You may see them hammering at goldenrod galls to extract the fly larvae inside.
—Woodpeckers don’t sing songs, but they drum loudly against pieces of wood or metal to achieve the same effect. People sometimes think this drumming is part of the birds’ feeding habits, but it isn’t. In fact, feeding birds make surprisingly little noise, even when they’re digging vigorously into wood.
—Downy woodpeckers have been discovered nesting inside the walls of buildings.
—The oldest-known downy woodpecker lived to be at least 11 years, 11 months old.
This information is courtesy of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
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