Bird of the Day: Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)

Bird of the Day: Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)

Downy woodpeckers are the smallest woodpecker I see on a regular basis, just about the size of a sparrow. When it’s cloudy and gray like today, it can be a challenge to identify them. It fact, I first mistook the one I saw this afternoon for a sparrow or other little brown job, because it was sitting on a bare branch and I couldn’t make out its distinctive black-and-white pattern against the glare of the cloudy sky.

Bird of the Day: Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)

Bird of the Day: Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)

I love cedar waxwings. They seem so unobtrusive at first glance—heck, often you don’t even see them on first, or second, or even fifth glance because they camouflage themselves so well. But they’re subtly colorful, with pale yellow bellies and those bright yellow or orange tail tips, and some with those red spots like bangles on their wings.

Bird of the day: Hairy woodpecker

Bird of the day: Hairy woodpecker

We’ve been seeing a lot of woodpeckers now that the leaves have fallen. A few days ago I counted close to a dozen downy woodpeckers on one of the trees near my house, and red-breasted woodpeckers have been coming around to peck at the locust tree outside my kitchen window. I’m not sure why hairy woodpeckers are called “hairy.” I guess it’s because the feathers on their bellies are fine and hair-like, but so are the feathers on the bellies of many other woodpeckers.