Fink Family Farm Bird List

Fink Family Farm Bird List

The only list I faithfully keep is a list of all the birds seen on our farm since we moved here in 1977. I thought it would be fun to ad...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Acorn Woodpecker Surprise

Today is the first day of the North American Migration Count just-for-fun "count week". We can tally birds we see three days before and three days after the official count, in case we miss them on count day. So I decided to take my binoculars and camera with me while I did chores this morning. I thought it would be fun to get photos each day of count week of birds that I might also get on the official day, Saturday. It was a good decision.

On my way back to the goat barn after turning the horses out for the day, a woodpecker flew up to the big snag.

I raised my binoculars to look and was amazed to see an Acorn Woodpecker... the first we have ever seen on our farm. We have a few oaks but they seldom produce acorns. There are other oaks in the neighborhood but mostly we have Big Leaf Maples and conifers. This is, after all, the edge of the Coast Range. But this woodpecker had an acorn in its mouth from somewhere which it deposited on top of the big part of the snag and proceeded to hammer at it. I took a million photos to catch the bird when its head was up and visible. After all, I wanted to document Farm Bird #148.

After hammering away for some minutes, the woodpecker flew to the skinny upright next to it and  preened.

Then things got more interesting. Our resident American Kestrel flew to the top of the skinny stick that the woodpecker was clinging to. The little falcon looked down and appeared startled by the strange bird below and immediately flew off. I was snapping photos constantly and caught it before it flew.

Cropped and lightened, you can see the Kestrel's reaction.

The Kestrel then circled the stick, screaming constantly, and made diving moves at the woodpecker... who totally ignored it. The Kestrel never came very close to the woodpecker, as though a bit afraid of this stranger in the neighborhood. It screamed and circled and dove over and over. The woodpecker continued to preen. Eventually, getting no reaction, the Kestrel flew off.

After a bit more preening, the woodpecker flew back and resumed hammering on its acorn. When it disappeared to the other side of the snag for a time, a Steller's Jay, which had been in a nearby tree watching, flew to the snag and pecked at the acorn. The jay must have managed to get a piece as it flew off with something in its bill. The woodpecker reappeared soon and hammered some more. At some point it disappeared again.

My goats were waiting to be milked so I quit watching, reluctantly, for the woodpecker to return. From the milk room window I can see that snag but I did not see the woodpecker again.

The Kestrel, by the way, did return a bit later and perched atop the skinny snag, which, apparently, he thinks he owns. Later still, he perched on a dead tree near the house where I took these photos.


Today was an exciting... and curious... start to my migration count week.

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