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Friday, July 27, 2007

Underage Drinking

While watching hummingbirds at the Fawnbrook Inn (Allenspark, CO), this Downy Woodpecker came in for some nectar-tipplin'. It isn't unheard of to see woodpeckers and orioles do so at hummingbird feeders, but it was still kind of cool to watch. I didn't capture the action on "film", but a few Broad-tailed Hummingbirds took exception and aggressively buzzed the complacent woodpecker. Others just seemed puzzled and unsure of what to do when the came in for their accustomed turn at the feeder only to find the behemoth in their usual spot.
You'll notice that this Downy Woodpecker has red where you might not expect it- on the crown instead of on the nape. This is found in juvenal plumage- this bird was born this year and is probably not long out of the nest. Kids these days, what with their sugary breakfast habits!! In fact, the limited red tipping of the crown feathers and lack of red on the forehead in front of the eye indicates that this is a female, per Peter Pyle's information-rich Identification Guide to North American Birds, Part 1. (I hear that Part 2, the birds "up to" doves, is coming soon...) Easterners especially might also note how dark the bird looks, a result of diminished or even lack of spotting in the upper half of the folded wing (scapulars and coverts.) Rocky Mountain Downy Woodpeckers (leucurus group) differ from their eastern counterparts (pubescens group) in this way. Here are a couple more pics of the bird in a more natural setting.

1 comment:

Mary C said...

I love how you captured the Downy on the hummingbird feeder. I had one visit me earlier this year (probably a couple months ago) who "landed" after a couple of attempts on one of my songbird-style feeders. He was after the nuts or sunflower seeds. Believe it or not, he was successful in grabbing some seed before flying off.