Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Downy or Hairy?

Downy or Hairy Woodpecker? Which is it? Does it make any difference?
As near as I can tell, this is a Downy; the difference is mostly the "short, stubby bill". And yet when I see pictures of a Hairy, I don't see that the bill is any longer.

I would also venture that this is a male due to the red patch on the nape. But I'm not even sure of that; I'd say the patch is more on the head than the neck. Ah, it is all so confusing.

This wide-angle shot is of the bird enjoying suet at our feeder near the bay window in the kitchen. It is a good spot to pull up a stool ... and wait. This guy has been around so long that he shows no fear of us at all. I can be washing the dishes or even talking to Mom or Dad, and he dines just the same as if I'm not there.
So if it is a Downy - Picoides pubescens - or not, let me enjoy the bird for what he brings to my life. I often lie awake worrying about creatures such as these. Are they bedded down in a tree cavity, free of the wind and snow? My own bed feels not as warm thinking of them clinging to a wind-blown limb.
I worry for the tracks in the snow when morning comes. Today, passing the creek near the corner of our road, I saw erratic lines of tracks across the snow-topped ice. What hunts on such cold nights?