A Hairy Woodpecker In Your Face!

I’m having all sorts of awesome good luck with birds this winter/spring, people. I mean, hooded mergansers on North Creek, American coots (which you shall soon have adorbs videos of), an owl(!), some super-cute diving birds I’ll be unleashing upon you soon, and woodpeckers.

You got the ID on our very far away and barely visible woodpecker from Lord Hill Regional Park. It is indeed a hairy woodpecker! Congratulations to all of you who either got the ID. Condolences to those who thought it was a downy woodpecker – I thought it might be, too, hence my laundry reference. Now that I understand the size differences, I agree with the hairy woodpecker crowd. Damn these lookalikes!

Here for your viewing pleasure is a much better video of a hairy woodpecker. This one was at St. Edward State Park. B and I have been hiking there often this year, as it’s conveniently located and has tough trails. For maximum difficulty, we go down the North Trail, continue along the Beach Trail, and then hike back up by the South Ridge Trail.

Image is a map of St. Edward State Park. Our route is a wobbly circle that goes round the whole thing.
St. Edward map courtesy of Washington State Parks. Our route is highlighted in yellow.

The South Ridge is nearly vertical in many places. There’s not trail so much as tree roots for a good part of the way. It definitely gets you huffing and puffing if you’re a sedentary writer type who’s trying to write several books and blogs simultaneously, plus play warming pad to an elderly cat. Luckily, I can write and cuddle kitties all at once, but I can’t exercise, write, and kitty cuddle, so this loop nearly murders me.

So no shit, there we were on a very warm March day, huffing and puffing our way up. Birdsong filled the forest. Sunlight filtered through the trees. A Douglas Squirrel had been having quite an argument with somebody on the way down, and now there were woodpeckers pecking away. We’d heard at least two by the time I paused by a cedar snag and attempted to breathe for a bit. The pecking sounded quite loud. I turned, and looked, and there in the ferns was a woodpecker!

Image shows a dead tree standing, shadowed, with sunlit trees behind it. There are ferns growing out of the moss-covered trunk. A woodpecker is in those ferns, but it's barely visible.
A woodpecker in ferns on a cedar snag.

We’re talking just a couple of feet away, right off the trail. He was right in my face when I first looked up, but shuffled over when I unholstered the camera. You know how birds are. But he didn’t care too much about my presence, and went merrily on pecking away at his dead tree.

The head and torso of the woodpecker are now visible.
A cropped image wherein you can actually see the little bugger.

B had gone on ahead, and I couldn’t shout for him to come back without spooking the woodpecker, so I continued to snap pictures for both you and him.

Image shows a part of the cedar snag, with the linear texture of its bark. The woodpecker is crouched along it. You can see the black stripes on its white face, and a tiny spot of red on the back of its head. The belly is pale and a dark wing is just visible.
Lookit how awesome he is!

Alas, it was shadowy where we were, and he was pecking pretty fast, so the still shots are a bit blurry. Still. Very cool!

A side view of the woodpecker, showing it about to peck the tree. You can see the white spots along its wings.
I will conquer this tree!

And one more, with that dear red spot on its head.

The woodpecker has come toward us just enough to show a bit of the red spot on the back of its noggin.
Red cap is red.

I shot a video, scarcely believing my luck. You can even hear the pecking!

Once I’d done all that, I shouted for B, but he was too far ahead to realize the faint noise that sounded like his name was his name. He was powering up the hill, trying to get it all in one go. He’s younger than I am, and likes to push himself a bit when we get out and about, so I give him his head and he misses woodpeckers. This is why it’s good to be an old fart: I get to take things slower and see more stuff. Still, I’d trade it for my younger, hardier body in a heartbeat, and would still see awesome things, because I tended to stop every few feet even when I was in excellent shape. I just didn’t gasp for air as much. Okay, maybe I misremember: the first time I went up South Ridge, I nearly died and swore never again. Ha ha ha whoops.

I hope you all enjoyed our wonderful woodpecker. If our luck holds, we may see even more outstanding PNW birdies soon!


(WordPress published an earlier version of this post, which I’d written before you lot clued me in to the hairy woodpecker vs. downy woodpecker characteristics. I fail at identifying woodpeckers and also at updating scheduled posts. Fixed now. Sorry if anyone got confused!)

A Hairy Woodpecker In Your Face!

3 thoughts on “A Hairy Woodpecker In Your Face!

  1. rq

    Aw, I just read this when it was still a downy woodpecker.
    One day, you will post up an OP with a real downy woodpecker, and nobody will believe you. :)

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