Hairy Woodpecker Finally – Weekend Highlight

Saturday morning I broke out the winter boots along with other assorted winter apparel and headed out. The cool temperatures didn’t keep me from making the big loop at the local park. During the walk I saw all the expected woodpecker species excluding Yellow-bellied Sapsucker but including the ever difficult Hairy Woodpecker finally.

Let’s set the stage for the Hairy Woodpecker. After walking for almost 3 hours I had seen numerous Red-bellied Woodpeckers and Northern Flickers, a couple of Pileated Woodpeckers, and 16 Downy Woodpeckers.

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Not sure why this Red-bellied Woodpecker was so upset but he called at my walking by for several minutes. Southeastway Park 11/12/16
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I watched both Northern Flickers and Red-bellied Woodpeckers doing acrobatics feeding on berries. Southeastway Park 11/12/16
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Right before this photo the flicker was hanging upside down to get the berry. Southeastway Park 11/12/16
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It always amazes me how a bird this big can so easily hide in the forest. A Pileated Woodpecker is in the center of the photo. Southeastway Park 11/12/16
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Looks like he too might be going for berries? Southeastway Park 11/12/16
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Hey! A good view of a Hairy Woodpecker finally. Southeastway Park 11/12/16
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No mistaking this guy for a Downy with the size of that bill. Southeastway Park 11/12/16

Finally towards the end of the walk and after seeing 16 Downy Woodpeckers I see the Hairy Woodpecker.

This figures to a ratio of 16 Downy to every 1 Hairy on the day. 

I added up my sightings since we moved to Indiana and believe it or not I have a ratio of 16.2 Downy Woodpeckers seen for every 1 Hairy Woodpecker.

Thinking this was too much of a coincidence I checked eBird and found the ratio for all of Indiana is 5:1. I also checked other on-line resources and they too state the ratio was about 5:1.

Which leads me to the following questions:

  1. Am I missing a lot of Hairy Woodpeckers? I know the Hairy’s rattle so I don’t think I’m missing them calling.
  2. Does Central Indiana have more Downy’s? Are the local woods the wrong habitat for Hairy’s? I checked eBird for the local counties and it’s 6:1.
  3. I’m still not sure many birders are confusing Downy Woodpeckers with Hairy Woodpeckers? I really do believe this. I have been on numerous outings when Downy’s have been misidentified.
  4. So maybe Downy’s call more? That would explain my higher Downy count.

I’ll have to be more observant in the field for Harry’s. If I would have seen 2 more Hairy’s Saturday the ratio would have dropped to 5.3:1. And in-line with most ratios.

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