Wednesday, November 5, 2008

One Downy, Two to Go, and a CFW

I tried to come up with a catchy title for this post that would describe my lunch outing today — I briefly considered a birder's alternative for the old "Three Martini Lunch," but "A Three-Pecker Lunch" just sounded a little too risqué. But whatever I call it, it was definitely worth skipping the greasy burgers the guys tried to talk me into.

The weather is nice and I really needed to get away from the office for a few minutes, so I headed over to nearby Woodland Trails West Park at lunch today. It's a neighborhood park bordered on one side by a large wooded area, and it backs up to a bayou and sunken field used as a run-off area after hard rains.

It was high noon when I headed over, so I didn't really expect to see much in the way of birds. But for a quick fifteen minute excursion, I certainly can't complain with the results.

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My arrival at the park was announced to the world by this Blue Jay, not that my presence seemed to bother him in the least. Once I'd been promptly and soundly told off, the disapproving jay dropped down to the grass a mere twenty feet away and started hunting for his lunch.

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I had only been there for a minute or two when I spotted my first woodpecker of the day, this male Downy Woodpecker. (The little red cap on the back of his crown identifies him as a male.)

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I followed the downy for a bit, then veered off for what turned out to be a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

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As I moved slowly toward the rear of the park, another flash of red caught my attention. After angling in to get a better view, I spotted my third woodpecker of the day: a male Red-bellied Woodpecker.

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Watching this bright red-capped fellow, I discovered a second red-bellied woodpecker following in his wake, pausing near each place he had stopped. The white crown on this one distinguished her as female — possibly his mate?

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Walking through the park, I heard but never spotted at least two mockingbirds and a dove. I also followed two little yellowish-greenish birds that flitted from branch to branch so quickly I could barely keep up. These are the best two images I could capture — they were just too fast for me.

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(Click either image to enlarge, although the quality doesn't improve with size)

I assume from the size and coloring that these were warblers of some kind ("confusing fall warblers," as labeled by Mr. Peterson), but that's as far as my inexperience can get me. And I can't even guarantee they are warblers. Kinglets, perhaps? I dunno.

UPDATE: Ruby-crowned Kinglets, identification courtesy of KatDoc and Christopher. Thanks, y'all!

When I got to the bayou, I accidentally spooked this Great Egret into flight.

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Taking that as my cue to leave (plus the fact that programming bugs still awaited my attention back at the office), I headed out. But I have to admit, I was in a much better frame of mind after that twenty minute birding excursion than when I started.

All in all, not a bad catch for a spur-of-the-moment lunchtime getaway.


Marvin said...

Pretty darned good for a bit of lunchtime birding, I'd say.

KatDoc said...


I rank my birding days by the number of woodpeckers I see. We can get up to 7 here in Ohio, with the YB Sapsucker being only a winter bird. Three species in 15 minutes is really good.

I'm pretty sure your "CFW" is actually a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Don't look for the ruby or golden crown on these tiny little birds. You will almost never see it. The size, color, white wing bars and white eyering, short tail and constant motion, with lots of wing-flicking, are diagnostic.

see if this photo looks like the bird you saw:

Its hard to get any kind of photo of a kinglet; congrats on bagging this one.


Alan said...

Hey Kyle,

Looks like a great lunch break! Nice photos too!

Christopher said...

Hi Kyle,
Nice job with the woodpecker tri-fecta. A Red-bellied Woodpecker or a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker would make my day (or even my week) but getting them both within a few minutes... well, I am truly green with envy. Your frenetic little friend looks and sounds like a Ruby-crowned Kinglet to me. I've been trying to get a pic of one for a while now and yours certainly have beaten the stuffing out of anything I've got so far!

Kyle said...

KatDoc to the rescue yet again!! That looks EXACTLY like what I saw. The only other pictures I had seen of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet all showed at least some of the red crown, and all seemed much more gray than olive green.

I've got the Cornell site bookmarked and have used it before, but for some reason I tend to go for my printed guides and forget about the web resources when I'm trying to ID something I don't know. (You wouldn't expect that from someone whose whole living is centered around computers and the internet!)

Now I get to add yet another new entry to my life list. Thanks for the help, Kathi!

PS - 7 woodpeckers? Show-off! ;-)

Kyle said...

Marvin and Alan -

Thanks for the comments and for visiting, guys! It was a great lunchtime experience, and definitely put me in a better mood to face the afternoon.

Christopher -

Yup, looks like you and KatDoc were right on the money again with the Kinglet ID! It's nice to have pros like y'all that are so willing to jump in and help a relative newbie. Thanks!

I was pretty excited about the "woodpecker tri-fecta" (love it!). Definitely a lucky catch for one short outing. I've drooled over enough of your woodpecker pics -- it's nice to be able to share a few of my own for a change.


KatDoc said...


I have only ever gotten 7 woodpeckers in one day on two different occasions, and that is when I am deliberately working it and going for the record, LOL! Three or four species on one trip is my usual.

I tend to use my printed field guides first, too. From what I have found on the Internet so far, you have to know the name of the bird to look it up, while with field guides, you can flip around and see several possibilities at a glance.

Glad I could help you with the kinglet, just don't ask me to deal with the small flycatchers, most shorebirds, or any kind of gull!


Vickie said...

Really nice woodpecker photos! What a terrific lunch break.

I have never seen a white-winged dove, another treat while visiting.