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woodpecker

The Flicker's White Rump

When a Northern Flicker takes flight, a bold patch of white feathers flashes on its rump, in contrast to its brown body. This white rump likely evolved as an anti-predator adaptation. A hawk flying in pursuit of a flicker may focus on the white spot rather than the darker image of the whole bird.... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  plumage

Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers

These Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers appear nearly identical, but the Hairy Woodpecker is larger than the Downy, with a distinctly longer bill. And it doesn't have the black spots on its outer tail feathers like the Downy. But even if you can’t observe these spunky birds, you can identify them by... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching, birdwatching by ear, sound

The Red-bellied Woodpecker and its Curious Name

Red-bellied Woodpeckers are bold, conspicuous, and vocal, thriving in rural and urban areas east of the Mississippi. Like most woodpeckers, Red-bellieds eat lots of insects. But they also like nuts, berries, and seeds. They can be attracted to back yards with suet cakes, berry bushes, or even a... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  birdwatching, plumage, species account

Woodpeckers Carve Out Roost Cavities, Too

In spring, we often hear woodpeckers hard at work, carving out nest holes in tree trunks. And now that fall has arrived, we may hear that excavating sound again. Some woodpecker species stay year round in the region where they nest, while others migrate south in winter. Those that remain, like... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  ecology, nesting

Drumming with Woodpeckers

Like a jazz player beating out a drum roll, a woodpecker uses its bill to rap out a brisk series of notes. Early spring resounds with the percussive hammering of woodpeckers. Their rhythmic drumming says to other woodpeckers, "This is my territory!" We also hear them knocking on wood when they... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display, sound

Pileated Applepeckers

It's autumn, and apples have begun to fall, although many remain on the trees. In full view of its offspring, an adult Pileated Woodpecker stabs a tasty apple treat. After it feeds, it flies to a nearby tree. Alone now, the youngster repeats what it's seen, knocking apples to the ground until it... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  reflection

Sapsuckers and Sap

Sapsuckers, a specialized group of woodpeckers, don’t actually suck sap. After pecking neat rows of small holes in trees to cause the sugary liquid to flow, the birds lick it up with tongues tipped with stiff hairs. So why doesn’t a sapsucker’s beak get stuck shut? Part of the answer may lie in... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  science

Red-cockaded Woodpeckers - Sunrise Vigil in the Pines

Red-cockaded Woodpeckers require large, old pines in which to nest. They breed cooperatively, and a family of these birds may have several nests in one area. They may also forage together, chattering and flying from tree to tree. The destruction of their preferred habitat – mature southern... read more »

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An Evening in Sapsucker Woods - With A.A. Allen

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology maintains the largest collection of bird sounds in the world. In 1958, Arthur Allen, the lab’s founder, described An Evening in Sapsucker Woods: “There is a charming spot in the Finger Lakes country of central New York that we know as Sapsucker Woods. Friends have... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  history, recording

Sapsuckers and Hummingbirds

The sapsucker is a type of woodpecker that notches rows of small holes in trees, causing sap to well out. The birds eat the sugary liquid flowing from these sapwells. Tree sap is similar in sugar content to the nectar hummingbirds take from flowers. And it is no coincidence that just as the... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  nesting

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