Today we have the fourth installment of Project Chekov, but this one comes with a little bit of uncertainty and mystery. While processing the feeder shots I came across the image below.
At the time I immediately classified this as another Downy Woodpecker since those can be seen quite frequently hanging out there. They like to give the impression they are hard working drillers for their food but I’ll see them sneak a trip to the feeders every once in awhile for a snack. At one point they were showing up a lot more than usual and for the longest time it stumped me as to why. Later, it became apparent that one of my seed bins had gone bad and it was filled with ants – the woodpeckers were not so much going after the seed as much as they were the ants that must have been overtaking the feeder. Clearly the one above was there for the seed. While uploading it to our photo website the yellow on the bridge of the beak caught my eye. I had not really noticed that before, as opposed to the more noticeable red highlight on the head for the males. This prompted a dash for the reference books. Nothing really conclusive there but part of that is due to the reference shots all being from the side and not directly on (bad reference authors, very bad). The size led me to believe it was the Hairy or the Downy and since there hasn’t been a lot of Hairy’s around here the best guess is the Downy. I checked the juvi Yellow- Bellied Sapsucker but that has more markings on the breast and less white for sure). The Black-backed Woodpecker and Three-toed didn’t match either and didn’t line up with the regions very well. Without any further input I’m forced to consider it the Downy. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments, I could be swayed easily at this point.
Here is another shot of a similar bird taken at a different time. As with the previous image you can see a little bit of the yellow on the bill here as well. This one is a pretty good match to the Downy characteristics and you can visualize the smaller stature.
So, it is possible the first is not a Downy, but I didn’t want to cheat you out of a post so went with some insurance!
Hit the jump to check that out.