Green Woodpeckers

This next post from our London trip will involve one of the last birds I saw on the trip – EUROPEAN GREEN WOODPECKER (eBird list it as Eurasian so the name must have been updated). Or just Green Woodpecker to the locals. If you have been following this blog from the start you know I have a thing about green birds. Green Woodpeckers in particular.

My favorite bird from our 2014 Costa Rica trip was the Golden-olive Woodpecker. I must have liked it since I picked it as my favorite bird of 2014.

A Golden-olive Woodpecker eyeing a banana which is out of the photo. La Fortuna, Alajuela, Costa Rica 12/15/14

I have whined in the past about not having bright green birds in the Midwest so when I saw Europe had a Green Woodpecker, it was one bird I definitely wanted to see.

I made the usual flashcards for the trip so I knew what the woodpecker would look like.

EGWO Flashcard
The mandatory flashcard of the birds I might see cut from an old Peterson British Birds Field Guide.
EGWO Collins
I studied the Green Woodpecker in my Collins, I mean Princeton Birds of Europe by Svensson, et al.

I learned the call of the European Green Woodpecker. This sounds similar to a Northern Flicker to me.

Link to European Green Woodpecker Call on xeno-canto.

I learned their habitat – city parks like Northern Flickers and checked where they were being seen on eBird.

I was ready.

And I almost missed it.

If it hadn’t been for two British birders that I spent several hours with at the London Wetlands Centre I might have missed it.

I didn’t think I’d have any problem seeing one in London’s City Parks since we see Northern Flickers in our city parks. They are reported in eBird to be in those parks and the habitat looked right.

But after many hours of walking through the parks with an ear always listening, I hadn’t heard or seen one. So going to the Wetlands was my last chance.

After spending time with the British birders looking at the wetland’s birds we headed back to the Visitor Center via a wooded trail. While walking they started naming the local birds of London and if I had seen them. Which I had for the most part. A little further down the path one asked about Green Woodpecker? I said no I hadn’t and yes I would. He stated they had seen one at the present spot 10 days previously.

And just like that one started calling and flew into a nearby tree!

The photo is back-lit and the European Green Woodpecker wasn’t cooperative, but I did get a few photos. London Wetland Centre, UK 4/5/16

Then another one started calling in the area. Two!

The closest one never positioned itself for a good photo. It was back-lit but I did get good looks of it through my binoculars.  We watched it for a few minutes and then it left with its undulating flight towards the other one.

I tried to lighten the photos to show more green but it didn’t help much. London Wetland Centre, UK 4/5/16
I think you can still see it’s a cool looking bird. London Wetland Centre, UK 4/5/16
It’s about the same size as a Northern Flicker. Check out that face! London Wetland Centre, UK 4/5/16

Sometimes things do work out.

Now do I want to make it my life’s goal to see all the green woodpeckers of the world? Maybe. I’ll research it and get back at a later date.

My 5 Best Birds of the Year – 2014

As with the tradition of bird bloggers, one must pick out their best birds for the previous year.  Not sure I like the term best bird, since all birds are in some way the best bird. But I like going through the exercise because it makes me reflect on the previous year.

Since I birded outside the Midwest on 3 occasions this year- South Texas, Southern California, and Costa Rica – picking a Best Bird of the Year is a little more difficult this year. But keeping with societies hangup for lists, I now present my top 5 birds of 2014.

5. Rufous-crowned Sparrow

Seen at Mission Hills Regional Park in San Diego in November.  I had not expected to see it since it was low on the status and distribution list. A very nice surprise.

A completely unexpected bird that sat up for great looks. Mission Hills – San Diego, CA – Nov. 2014


4. Montezuma Oropendola

This was one of the birds I had definitely wanted to see in Costa Rica.  A large blackbird but with a chestnut back, yellow tipped tail, and white under eye.  What else to say.

MORO Corrected
I lightened the photo to try to show the coloring a little better. Taken photos is tough during the rainy season since it is always dark and rainy. Hence the term “Rain Forest” – La Fortuna area – Costa Rica – Dec. 2014

3. Green Jay

As I have stated previously, why can’t the Midwest have a blue headed, green body jay?  I probably wouldn’t even travel much if I could see one of these in my neighborhood.

Not the clearest of pictures, but the best one I had to show the contrasting blue head, black face and throat, and green body. Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge – Texas – June 2014


2. Carolina Wren

Still my favorite Midwest bird.  If not my favorite bird. What’s not to like about an always chattering, feisty, brown above, buff below fireball?

Carolina Wren - Common in Indiana - Not so common in North-Central Illinois
Carolina Wren – Illinois

1. Golden-olive Woodpecker

Of all the new birds I saw this year this one probably made me gasp the loudest when I first saw it. It almost looked fake with the colors seeming to be painted on. I looked and looked and still couldn’t believe the coloring.

I still can’t believe that the colors aren’t painted on it’s body. La Fortuna area – Costa Rica – Dec. 2014

So there you have my top 5 for 2014.  Hopefully you have had as good of time reflecting  on the birds you saw in 2014.