4 Jan 2012

Woodpeckers and Crossbills

Northern Flicker
My plans to spend the day in the River valley today were a bust, I simply had too many errands to run.  That didn't stop me from going out for the first time this year.  I simply didn't go very far.  At first I thought it was going to be one of those days when you hear the birds but just don't see any.  I stayed a little longer anyway, because things can change very quickly when you are out birding, as many of you no doubt know.

Downy Woodpecker
My sightings began with a Downy Woodpecker and a Northern Flicker sitting at the very top of a thirty foot pine.  
Gray Squirrel
I surprised this Squirrel as I moved slowly and quietly along the forest floor, ducking under bushes and stepping over fallen logs in an effort to keep from startling the birds and to listen for bird song.  He froze in place and posed nicely for a couple of minutes, before scampering out of sight.   I heard plenty of Blue Jays, Nuthatch and Magpies, but saw nothing else until I caught a flicker of movement and color at the corner of my eye.

White-winged Crossbill
White-winged Crossbill profile

When I turned to look, I saw a couple of White-winged Crossbills landing on the lower branches of a pine.
Digging seed from pine cone
Mouth full of seed


I managed to catch one photo, before both headed off to the tree tops, and I thought I'd lost them for sure, only to spot them again on the forest floor a few minutes later.

On alert
One of them carried a pine cone from the forest floor to a perch so he could dig the seed out of it.  I haven't seen the White-winged Crossbill for a couple of years now and hope to catch a few more photos before the season changes.  If you wish to learn how to identify this species you can read about it on my other blog.  Just follow this link:

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