Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Backyard Woodpeckers: Two Resources

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Nature, Wildlife, Biodiversity

Ed Hessler

The publication of  "Seven birds you might see here and how to tell them apart" (StarTribune, January 4, 2023. Paywalled), especially in its organization reminded me of a treasured resource for bird watchers, The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology website All About Birds.

Cunningham included biographies of the most common tree pecking birds which hang around in the the winter: Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and the Red Headed Woodpecker.

For each species,  size, range, habits and habitat, markings and call were listed and described. Cunningham's reporting was beautifully illustrated with 5 of the 7 birds described in the. In addition, Cunningham included population estimates for each from Partners in Flight

Downy woodpecker 13 million

Hairy woodpecker 8-9 million

Red-bellied woodpecker 16 million

Northern flicker 11 million

Yellow-bellied woodpecker 14 million

Red-headed woodpecker 1.8 million

All About Birds includes this biographic information: overview, ID information, life history, maps and sounds. You probably know that its list is not complete including 600+ birds of North America but it is a good place to start. Having access to the calls adds considerable value to the site.

It is worth checking this site for birds you see and might be unsure about, want to know more about or wanting to see whether the call you heard is one the bird makes.

I received an announcement (January 7 2023) from The Cornell Lab's Bird Academy in which are note noted a replayable quiz for two of the birds Cunningham described. A happy coincidence. Both Downy woodpecker and Hairy woodpecker fall into the "can be tricky to tell apart" category. It includes a listing of visual cues (illustrated), ID keys, and a test of your woodpecker ID skills.

The Star Tribune writers who report on what's on feathered wings are both 5 star columnists.

Thanks once again to them and to The Star Tribune for publishing their informed work.

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