Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Downy Visit

I have always enjoyed woodpeckers, their flighty nature, their calls, their colorful plumage and peculiar lifestyle. The best time to see a woodpecker or any bird, for that matter, is when you're being still outside. They will come to you. I have never had this confirmed so quickly as when this male downy arrived.Both a male and female downy visited my feeders during the winter. I could see them come to the feeder together, sometimes even notice them approaching, tree by tree. But the best photo I could manage was the female with one eye peeping around the feeder!
Yesterday, I sat a chair outside with the idea in mind of sketching a tree. A tree will be still, I thought. But it wasn't the tree that was the problem.

I did sketch the tree, but not without many interruptions. A brown thrasher landed on its branches and I had to stop and photograph it. I watched the dogwood blossoms blowing in the wind as the cloud movement changed the light. And I had to get up and examine the tiny, newly formed oak leaves in their pastel shades of pink and green.
No sooner had I returned to my sketch when I heard a faint, "tap, tap, tap". I sat very still, uncertain where it was coming from. Again, "tap, tap, tap." Just over my shoulder a few feet away, I found a male downy tapping on the branches of a dogwood.
Now still, he was not. Not for a minute. But he was so close, it made me giggle. And he stayed long enough for me to take several images as he scooted around the limbs, going about his business. Tap, tap, tap.
He even showed me the back of his head.
And if you look closely, in some of the photos you can see the spots on his outer tail feathers. Hairy woodpeckers and downy woodpeckers look very much alike, except the hairy has a larger bill and is slightly larger in size. But according to Peterson's field guide, if you are close enough to see them, the spots on the outer tail feathers also set them apart. The hairy's tail feathers are all white with no spots.
This downy brought me an unexpected treat, something nature never fails to give me. Whenever you can, get outside and just be still for a while. Nature's performers are already gathered on the stage and its a busy time of year.

Linked to Bird Photography Weekly #33, at Birdfreak.com, to promote the conservation of our world's birds.

10 comments:

  1. beautiful art and photos here.
    nikonsniper

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  2. Vickie I can hardly wait for warmer weather to sit out and sketch. Great shots of the downy. Wonderful things happen when you are still. loving the colors of the new leaves also.

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  3. Wonderful that the downy came so close to you. I didn't know new oak leaves had pink on them, and the branch the woodpecker is on is colorful also, so pretty! Nature is full of surprises.

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  4. I like your description of your quiet time outside and the details you were able to observe of the woodpecker.

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  5. You certainly had a little 'Down' time ;-) How fun was that? And the oak leaves are so pretty in pastel - I wouldn't have recognized them! My only disappointment?? I didn't get to see the sketch ;-)

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  6. ...it doesn't matter where I am, when I see a Downy, I feel happy. They are such sweet birds!

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  7. I was so happy to see your close up photos of the woodpeckers. I'd never seen or heard them until this spring and then I was on a walk and heard the pecking, looked way way up on top of a pole and there he was. But I could barely see him and now with your photos, there they are close up. They're so cute!

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  8. Gorgeous captures of the Downy Woodpecker Vickie. It is indeed a very busy time of year with the birds all pairing up and nest building. I feel that if I'm not outside, I am missing everything. I love the shot of the female peeking around the corner with the bit of food on her beak. Woodpeckers are such fun to watch.

    I wholeheartedly agree that the best way to see all you can see is to sit quietly and wait. It is amazing what will come to you.

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  9. I like the pictures on the dogwood tree! I've seen this woodpecker only once, and that too very fleetingly, so this was a treat!

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  10. Very beautiful post and nice pic, especially the first one. Cheers :)

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