Sunday dawned a beautiful morning. The first birds I saw were cardinals—male and female. There were Chipping, English, and House Sparrows at the feeder. Out the kitchen window I saw a Junco and a Mourning Dove. At the feeder there were now starlings and Brown-headed Cowbirds. A Chickadee visited the feeders next. A Canada Goose flapped overhead, and a sea gull soon followed. Then it was time to go to church.
When I got home, I took a walk. I went back to our neighbor’s woods, which is lowland and a little bit wet most of the time. First, I saw about eight bluebirds and eight cardinals. House and Carolina Wrens sang. A Downy Woodpecker tapped at a branch before flying away. A chickadee began to sing. Then it was lunchtime. After lunch it was time for quiet time (to read books). So I thought I wouldn’t find any more birds that day. But after quiet time, I decided to go look for more.
Ethan and I went down close to the woods. First we saw a Downy Woodpecker again. A flock of starlings flew overhead and then some sparrows. I saw a mockingbird. I went farther into the woods and then shouted to Ethan, “Come look.” He came running. “Look up there,” I told him. There was a Pileated Woodpecker. Then Ethan went to the house, and the woodpecker flew away.
Soon I saw the mockingbird again and decided to chase it. All of a sudden about twenty woodpeckers came out of a tree. Just then Ethan came and gave me the bird book, which I opened to the woodpecker section. I already knew there were Downy and Red-headed, plus a couple more that I couldn’t remember seeing before. Red-bellied? Yes. Hairy? Not sure. I went to the tree. Hairy also. That was a nice flock. I went looking for more, but all I found was a Red-breasted Nuthatch. And that is what we saw.
Years ago, both Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers visited a feeder on our deck. One day while I was at work, Bethany took these identically-composed photos of both species. This makes it easy to compare size and features of these two very similar-looking female woodpeckers.
The Downy is the smaller of the two. Its size compares to a sparrow at 6½ inches (16.5 cm) long.
The Hairy, in addition to being larger, has a longer and stouter bill. The Hairy compares to a cardinal at 9 inches
(28.9 cm) long.