Tuesday, September 5, 2006

My Favorite Bird

Tuesday, September 5, 2006
While we were in Iowa, we got to enjoy great looks at my favorite North American bird, the red-headed woodpecker. This was one of the first birds I identified by myself (as a 7-year-old in Iowa in 1969, not far from where this photo was taken in September 2006) and everything about the red-headed just gets me fired up.

I love its mix of colors. I love the way its wings flash like a semaphore when in flight. I love the bird's call: Queerp! And I love the fact that where you see one red-headed woodpecker, there are almost always others around--they are loosely colonial.

We showed the red-headeds we found to our kids, our nephews, and a bunch of our dear Iowa friends. Everyone who peeked in the scope at this cooperative red-headed (above) said "Wow!"

Talk about a great bird....


On September 5, 2006 at 7:14 PM Susan Gets Native said...

Wow is right!
I've seen them twice here, but they are always flying away from me and I don't get to see the pretty red head.

On September 5, 2006 at 7:56 PM Bill of the Birds said...

Susan, they are rarer in Ohio than in Iowa. They need stands of oaks, old trees with dead wood in them, and they do better where there are not lots of starlings.

On September 5, 2006 at 11:22 PM Anonymous said...

There is an old Scandinavian folk tale that my folks read to us from some collection. It is about a peasant woman who was turned into a red-headed woodpecker because of her stingy behavior. We liked it because, being a family of redheads (2 parents, all 4 kids), it had a special appeal.
It had something to do with the white apron, black cloak and red bonnet that she was wearing when she was changed into a bird.
I've seen the birds several times here in the Black Hills in an old burn area from a forest fire.

Caroline in SD

On September 6, 2006 at 7:59 AM KatDoc said...

Oh, yes - what a great bird! Bill, is it my imagination, or did they used to be more common in Ohio? I seem to remember from my childhood (when dinosaurs roamed the earth, if you believe the 20-somethings I work with) that the Red-headed Woodpecker used to be a fairly common visitor to our bird feeders in eastern Ohio. At the same time, I don't remember Red-bellied Woodpeckers at all. (Of course, this could all be a product of my failing memory and not a birding phenomenon.)

Today, if I want Red-headed Woodpeckers, I have to go looking for them, as I did one day early this year. I already had 6 woodpecker species that day, and went out investigating a spot in Clermont County where I had heard there were red-heads. I was lucky - and patient! - enough to find a small group of them and was rewarded by having one land on a telephone pole right in front of me. For someone who ranks the quality of birding that day by the number of woodpecker species she sees (4 or more is a Good Day), a 7 Woodpecker Day was the ultimate prize.


PS: For people in the Toledo area, a guarenteed Red-headed Woodpecker spot is Oak Openings, at Girdham Rd. (Turn your backs to the Lark Sparrow field and look straight ahead.)

On September 6, 2006 at 8:26 AM Rondeau Ric said...

Morning BT3

Red headed woodpeckers are a specialty of Rondeau. We have a least 6 that come to our feeders throughout the day.

If you are feeling red head withdrawal you could always visit.

Sneaky, eh? Worked another Rondeau invite into your blog.

On September 6, 2006 at 6:29 PM Grace n me said...

Growing up in Huron, Ohio red-headed woodpeckers were a common bird in our yard. It was not until much later in life, when I became a serious birder, that I realize how uncommon this bird is.
They are truly one of the more spectacular looking birds.

On September 7, 2006 at 11:23 AM Patrick Belardo said...

I wish we saw them more here in NJ. One of my earliest bird memories is my dad showing me one in an old telescope we had.

On November 17, 2006 at 9:49 PM Denise said...

This is my favorite bird also. I am located in mid-Mich with approx. 5 families located near my property in the summer.

Plz email me at sspye@aol.com