October 18th, 2010
|12:13 pm - NATURE TIME|
The Downy Woodpecker: Nature's Little Alarm Clock
Shown: A downy woodpecker in its natural habitat; some nature website.
Not Shown: The little feller who decided to go to work on the top corner eaves this morning. He flew off when I opened the kitchen window. He hopped around on a branch nearby all indignant and went back to work while I went for the camera.
We made eye contact when I leaned out the open window. He gave a disgruntled cheep then flew off, and has not been back since which is a shame since now I have my camera all ready. If he does come back though maybe I ought to let the cat make eye contact next. Not that the cat can reach him or anything. But someone apparently needs to know who's boss around here. RECOGNIZE THIS, LIL FELLA? IT'S A PREDATORY SHAPE! (Meanwhile, Mr. 20 Pound Throw Rug will squirm uncomfortably in my arms and decide he wants to be doing anything else at the moment.)
It might be a hairy woodpecker. It could be. I didn't get a good beak-to-head ratio which is one of the differences between the two that Mr. Nature Website told me about. It's just as well, because I ain't about to go typing "hairy woodpecker" into GIS all willy-nilly.
I found this morning that in my area, nature's alarm clock is apparently the Cat. Not only does she wake you up around 4:30 in the morning by jumping onto your chest while you're asleep, she also comes equipped with a snooze alarm which enables her to continue to repeatedly do this every 5-10 minutes until you're finally wide awake enough that you get up chase her around the bedroom so that you can bodily remove her and close the door.
At which point, if your cat is anything like mine was, it will mewl piteously until you want to kill it....
Apparently, she was just sitting patiently outside the door. As I discovered after lying in bed wide awake for several minutes and realizing that I now needed to pee. At which point, she had the gall to follow me into the bathroom and purr at me! Grr...
Downy and hairy woodpeckers are notoriously hard to tell apart. One is a bit larger than the other, which doesn't help unless they are both in the same place. Apparently the rhythm of pecking is different between species, but who can keep that in their heads. I can't. (I know of someone who can, but he is a Serious Birder....)
I'm pretty sure I had the pecking rhythm down since I heard it a lot.
In fact, I think it was Morse Code for "ha ha ha HA ha" or something.
Nah, it was mostly three or four quick raps with a small break in between. So he's saying SHSHSHSHSHSHSHSH a lot.
You could probably do a web search on it if you cared.... If you do, let me know. :-)
If cartoons have taught me anything, they've taught me that woodpeckers are dicks.
All that policeman wanted to do was take a nap!
The Hairy woodpecker is similar, but in my opinion, pretty easy to tell apart. The beak is quite noticeably longer, and overall the bird is just a lot bigger. A Downy is on par with perhaps a sparrow, while the Hairy is closer to the size of a Starling. There are other field marks, but they're quite fiddly, and I won't bore you with them. Here is a good size comparison shot.Edited at 2010-10-18 11:54 pm (UTC)