Sunday, April 17, 2016

Not all woodpeckers with a red head are red headed woodpeckers

This is the tail end of a hairy woodpecker. They look like large versions of the downies that frequent my feeders. If it were a downie, it would have white bars on the black tail feathers

So I finally got a photo of the red  bellied woodpecker. I believe it is a male but not absolutely sure

Close-up of Mrs. Cooper's hawk

This nest is very close to the road I run on

As the one on the tree appears larger than the one on the nest, I assume the smaller male is warming the eggs

One difference between falcon, a peregrine below we saw in CA, is that falcons have larger feet than hawks. These birds are roughly the same size but the falcon has bigger feet. Falcons strike with the feet versus the beak. Also falcons have some weird organ in their nose so they can survive their 200 mph dives

About a month ago, a raptor of some sort knocked itself out  on my window while pursuing my feeder birds. By the time I got my camera out, it had recovered and flew off. I tried to remember all the details: gray blue back, orange thigh feathers, much smaller than the red tail hawk that comes through. I assumed it was a falcon called a merlin which looks very similar to this. But a mile away, as the hawk flies, I found its home very close to the road and would see it about half the time I ran by. So there are two of them taking turns sitting on the eggs. There used to be a very small raptor known as a sparrow hawk. Some how using DNA, they found out it is really a falcon and renamed it a kestrel. Still not clear on the differences between a hawk and a falcon as some of them closely resemble each other but birds books don't even have them in the same chapter.
So these are Cooper hawks, not merlins. There is another bird that even experts can't tell the difference except in general it is a bit smaller known as a sharp-shinned hawk. One likes deciduous forests and the other coniferous. As our woods are mainly hickory and oak (versus the sugar maples I used to live amongst), I am calling it a Cooper's hawk aka chicken hawk. It likes birds versus rodents whereas the red tail hawk I hope is eating our rodents.
I went to the woods yesterday armed with the good camera with the 300 mm lens (maybe I should get a bigger lens)  in pursuit of the woodpeckers. There are no leaves on the trees and they are calling out to each other along with the tree tapping. They have such a distinctive call even Steve can hear and recognize it. So I focus on their calls and find them. Unfortunately, they flit from tree to tree and like to be high up. Once I had a clear shot when it was fairly low but alas, the camera wasn't completely turned on. And a second later, off to another tree. But I did get some photos along with that of a hairy woodpecker. A nuthatch was very close to me ripping off bark presumably to make a nest with it. Nuthatches are in my yard so I didn't photograph it. I did see a hawk in the nest but it flew off when I got closer.
I went back this morning with Steve thinking the birds are more active in the morning. We heard plenty of woodpeckers but didn't see them. But bonus, both hawks were next to the nest and like to perch on low limbs for a long time.
I biked 68 miles this week. Sounds like a lot but still less than my long day last summer. It was perfect this morning. Windless. The temps are to climb during the day from 38 to 78 so our humidity is very low.
It would have been a nice day for soccer yesterday but the game was cancelled. Dontae didn't know that until he was almost all the way to the field. So I saw Maya for a bit. They were off to the Toledo Zoo. Glad she is getting some enrichment activities.


Elephant's Child said...

You did so well capturing the birds. I have a very soft spot for raptors but rarely see them (except floating in the thermals).
And that bike ride sounds huge to me.

Sue in Italia/In the Land Of Cancer said...

The raptors I would most like to see are owls. So far none in the wild though I think I hear them. The red tail hawk,a buteo, circles our house floating on the thermals but will occasionally land. The accipitors, such as the Cooper's hawk, don't ride thermals and usually are harder to see so I was thrilled to find its nest.


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