Sunday, October 09, 2011

Big-beaked Hairy Woodpecker

I'm no bird expert but for 12 years I've been watching and photographing the birds in my (Cariboo) back yard. Among our most frequent visitors are the hairy woodpeckers. I'm not sure I could tell one from another, except that the males have a red flash on their crown.

So, when I saw this one, I did a double take, thinking it was probably a variety I'd never encountered. But other than a beak three times as long as all the other Hairy visitors (see inset), he was the same. Nothing like this in the bird guide and our local bird guy, Tom Godin, agreed.


He's a regular visitor, gets on well with the other Hairys and seems to manage OK with his long beak. I think he even has a bit of an advantage getting deep into the suet cage, though my impression is that getting food down his beak and into his body is a little more time-consuming.

Have you ever seen a Hairy woodpecker like this? Either way, I'd welcome your comments.

For more about my birds: Birds from a Backyard Deck.

3 comments:

Greg Gillson said...

I bet he'd have trouble turning around in a nest cavity!

Jeffrey Newman said...

Nature's way, I guess, Greg. Not likely then to have many little ones.

I hope he sticks around so I can keep a bit of an eye on him.

Jeffrey Newman said...

A friend on Facebook did a little research and came up with this interesting and worrying information:
"Here is some interesting follow-up to Jeffrey's post about the woodpecker with the deformed beak. Apparently it's disturbingly common. Take a look at this website. http://blog.aba.org/2010/11/the-mystery-of-deformed-beaks.html They ask for sightings to be reported."
I completed their report form and sent a photo.