Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Red-headed Woodpecker and Red-breasted Sapsucker

Red-headed Woodpeckers were a common sight at the Rowe Wildlife Sanctuary in Nebraska; 7-11-10.
One of the most beautiful sights in the bird world (in my humble opinion) is the flight of a Red-headed Woodpecker. Its white feathers on its wings and tail contrasting with its black body and completely red head is very striking. For the first time I saw a Red-headed Woodpecker while driving to the Rowe Wildlife Sanctuary this past July. I was so excited that I yelled at Val (who was driving) to pull over so I could try to get a picture. It was sitting on a road sign and I hoped that by the time I dug out my camera, put in the settings, got out of the car, and focussed on it, that it would not fly away. Indeed, it stayed put and gave me time for several shots, inching closer with each photo, before it finally decided I was too close for comfort and flew away. Little did I know that once we started hiking inside Rowe Sanctuary a few minutes later, that I would have many oppurtunities to see more Red-Heads (Above and Below, 7-11-10). According to bird guides, the Red-headed Woodpecker does live year round in my neck of the woods (Northern Illinois), but I have never seen nor heard it.


Red-headed woodpecker in Rowe Sanctuary, Nebraska; 7-11-10.

I thought I saw one last summer while hiking to Tokopah Falls in Sequioa National Park, California. However, that would have been quite a rare sighting, as the Red-headed Woodpecker has never been seen in that part of the country. In fact Nebraska and parts of Eastern Wyoming and Montana is the farthest West it has ever been sighted. The bird that I saw in Sequoia was a Red-breasted Sapsucker (Below, 6-24-09).

A Rd-breasted Sapsucker in Sequoia Nat. Park, CA; 6-24-09.
You may see why, by this photo (which doesn't show a clear look at the bird), that I might have guessed it was a Red-headed Woodpecker. It behaved like a woodpecker. But after I really saw a Red-headed WP, I relooked at this older photo and upon further research concluded that it's a Red-breasted Sapsucker. These Sapsuckers have obviously less white on its wings, and it seemed to be the only tree-clinging species of bird that has an entire red head and face that lived out as far as California.

1 comment:

tammymcchesney said...

My parent's property backs up to Fontinelle Forest in Bellevue, NE....and they have tons of the red headed woodpeckers...we even had babies this year...fun to watch! Bird watching is great in the Forest...if you ever get to Bellevue you have to make that one of your stops! For more info on the forest go here: http://www.fontenelleforest.org/