The Woodpecker Field Trip At San Diego Bird Festival

Don't forget that this Thursday at 6pm at Merlin's Rest is a Birds and Beers (Birds and Beers is an informal gathering of birders to sit down, have a beverage, and talk some birds). If you are remotely interested in birds, from the hardcore lister to the backyard birder to someone who saw a bird once, this group is for you.

I was really excited to do the Woodpecker Field Trip at the San Diego Bird Festival. I was hoping to see some new species like white-headed woodpecker or Lewis's woodpecker. I got skunked on both but had a fabulous time--that's the way it crumbles, cookie-wise when birding. Ah well, another bird for another day. I did have a great time with all of the acorn woodpeckers and several other species.

We had a great moment with a western variety of northern flicker (this is a red-shafted variety). Where I live, we get the yellow-shafted version of this species. The red-shafted version of the northern flicker is different, the shafts of wing feathers are red and the males have a red moustache and not a black moustache. Note the above male. Now, here is a photo of the yellow-shafted that I'm used to. See the difference?

We had paused for a break in the trail and could hear this bird in the distance. We played its call once and it flew in and immediately flew in and started to drum on the trunk to announce territory. I got a video of it:

What amazes me most is how little movement the flicker appears to be making and still manages to create quite a sound. The birds look for a good, resonant tree but still the sound is remarkable.

We had a spectacular time, the view was beautiful up in the mountains surrounded by burnt trees. One of the field trip leaders was Steve Shunk head of Paradise Birding. He's got a woodpecker festival going this June in Oregon and says that he could easily get me white-headed woodpecker there...was that his plan? Maybe he was keeping the white-headeds away on this trip, so I'd have to go to Oregon in June? Doubtful, since I've never met a man so gung-ho on woodpeckers...ever. Seriously, this guy needs to be seen to be believed. I have never seen a grown man get so excited over seeing a downy woodpecker, as Steve Shunk.

I did get one new woodpecker species and that was a Nuttall's woodpecker. This is such a cool woodpecker at least the one I was was watching. She was gleaning insects off of the leaves. They do peck like other woodpeckers, but some do go for the bugs crawling on the foliage. I got a video of her foraging. In the background, you'll hear Steve talking about a sapsucker, he's not talking about the Nuttall's--you can hear his excitement (that's the same excitement he would have for a downy woodpecker), he was on the trail of an odd looking sapsucker:

Did you hear Steve's excitement?