Sunday, May 10, 2015

Red-headed Woodpecker

I went to Rouge River Bird Observatory, U of M Dearborn and the Henry Ford Estate to see what migrants might have flown in.  It was pretty quiet until I met up with a birder I was not acquainted with who nonchalantly told me that he had seen a red-headed woodpecker and gave me directions.  I wasted no time in getting down the trail.  

When I arrived at the spot he described there was both a red-belled woodpecker and a great crested flycatcher being very vocal, but no sign of the red-headed until three grackles flushed a smaller bird in my direction.  With white wing patches flashing, it landed on a nearby tree.

I took photos from both quite near and some distance.  The bird was completely silent and ate all of the food that it found making me think that it might be an unmated first spring female.  I also thought the bird had found perfect red-headed woodpecker nesting habitat.  

The four photos I include here were chosen because the bird's eyes can be seen.  For many of the photos, even though the bird appeared to be in focus in my viewfinder, when I downloaded the pictures the eyes were obscured.  I think this was because of the light and the dark eye surrounded by red feathers.

Nearly fully adult, just not quite.

I watched the bird for 20 minutes or more as it flew from tree to tree, hopped up trees, made amusing poses and balanced itself with its tail pressed against the trunk.  I was so absorbed with this bird and taking photos that I failed to give proper attention to a loud (emphasis on loud) woodpecker calling.  Then the loud calling was much closer. Pileated woodpecker!  I walked further down the trail to find habitat that was also perfect for pileated woodpecker.  By then it had stopped calling.  Finally, I heard loud drumming that may even have been coming from across the river.  When I went back the red-headed woodpecker had disappeared for the moment and I thought it was time to leave the bird alone. 

How great to have both of these birds together and in good nesting habitat in an area where they very uncommon.  

Addendum:  Probably not a pileated woodpecker.  See comments on my next blog post.

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