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OT - Bird question
  • Subject: OT - Bird question
  • From: Aplfgcnys@aol.com
  • Date: Tue, 15 Dec 2009 13:44:17 EST

The last time I had a bird question I went to a Birding list and was
given a rather off-putting response  - why didn't I look it up in a good
birding guide?  Since I have practically every birding guide in print (and
some old ones that are no longer in print) and had exhausted my
references, I felt that was a bit unhelpful.  So I am asking my good
friends, in the hopes that one or more of you will have a thought in 
the matter.  
We regularly have three kinds of woodpeckers at the feeders - Downys,
Red-Bellies, and Hairys. These come in large numbers.  It is not 
uncommon to see five Downys taking turns, or being defensive of, the
suet cake. They also eat sunflower hearts from the tube feeder, but that
is not their primary focus.  Several times this fall I have noticed a bird
at the tube feeder that at first glance seemed to be a female Downy, but on 
further observation didn't fit.  This bird is the size of a Downy and has
black-and-white markings on the back and head, but a definitely reddish-
brown chest.  Downys have white chests.  My research in the birding
guides at first didn't produce much, but the very excellent Sibley Guide
to Birds has a picture of a Ladder-backed Woodpecker that seems to
fill the bill (no pun intended). I hadn't seen the bird for several daya, 
but she
was back today, and with my binocs I could even see the tuft of brownish
feathers at the base of the beak.  The problem with this identification is
that Ladderbacked Woodpeckers are native to the Southwestern deserts.
What would one be doing in the Hudson Valley of New York?

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