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Posts Tagged ‘Picoides pubescens’

Downy Woodpeckers (Dryobates pubescens) are the smallest woodpeckers in North America.  They more than make up for their lack of size, however, with their inexhaustible energy. Their constant motion makes them fun to watch, but a challenge to photograph.

I spotted this male Downy Woodpecker earlier this week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. How do I know that it is a male? The males of this species have a little patch of red on the back of their heads and in each of these photos you get a small peek at the red on the head.

 

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It seems like we are at a time in the year when the number of birds has increased. I can hear them everywhere when I walk along the wooded trails of Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The problem, though, is that most the leaves are still on the trees, so I am having huge problems spotting the birds and if I can’t see them, I can’t photograph them.

Earlier this week, I heard the familiar knocking sound of a woodpecker at work. I could see some movement in a tree amidst the foliage. I tracked the movement until suddenly the woodpecker popped into the open for a brief moment as it reached the top of the dead tree. I was able to capture this one shot of what appears to be a male Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)—only males have the red patch of feathers on the back of their heads. (The Hairy Woodpecker is similar in appearance to the Downy Woodpecker, but is larger and has a longer bill—the angle of this shot makes it tough for me to be absolutely certain of my identification.)

Downy Woodpeckers are the smallest woodpeckers in Northern America, but what they lack in size, they seem to make up in energy. They always seem to be super energetic and industrious and are one of the birds that I am able to spot throughout most the entire year.

downy woodpecker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I am always struck by the amazing energy and tenacity of Downy Woodpeckers (Picoides pubescens), like this male that I spotted on Friday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge as he pecked away at a seed pod. I was worried that his weight would pull down the seed pod, but I guess that he is pretty light and the pod seemed to be firmly attached to the tree,

Downy Woodpecker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I have always admired the fierce determination and intense focus of little Downy Woodpeckers (Picoides pubescens) as they hammer away at the trees in search of something to eat, like this beauty that I spotted this past Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

Downy Woodpecker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It is hard to believe that there could possibly be any insects or other nourishment in the dried-up reeds and cattails, but this male Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) was feverishly pecking away this past Monday at Huntley Meadows Park. He was extremely focused and persistent—I hope that his efforts were eventually rewarded.

Downy Woodpecker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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When the lighting was as dim as it was Saturday morning at Huntley Meadows Park, it felt like I was shooting in black and white. Fortunately there was a bit of color in the head and eyes of the little male Downy Woodpecker that I spotted high in the trees, framed wonderfully by the surrounding branches.

Downy Woodpecker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I hope that things are looking up for you as you begin 2017. I photographed this male Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) in the morning of the last day of 2016 at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, Virginia.

I’ve always admired the intense focus of these little woodpeckers. Perhaps I can look to them for inspiration as I consider my goals for this new year.

downy woodpecker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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