Tuesday, May 27, 2008

This beautiful picture is used with permission from the photographer, Brian E. Small, whose website (http://www.briansmallphoto.com/index.html) contains not only awesome photos of birds but also several very useful articles on birding and photography.

The photo shows a Golden-fronted Woodpecker, and the reason it is here is that one of these birds showed up in my pond area two days ago. I was at the computer when I spotted a woodpecker on the quail block. At first glance it looked like an ordinary Gila Woodpecker, but I'd never seen one on the quail block, so I pulled out my binoculars for a closer look. Through the binoculars it was clear this wasn't an ordinary Gila: it had yellow above its beak and a very large patch of yellow at the nape of its neck. Instead of a small round "cardinal's cap" it had a larger, brighter, irregularly-shaped patch of red on top. it also looked somewhat... strange. Definitely not a Gila.

I went to my bird book and started looking up flickers, which are very similar to woodpeckers, but none had the yellow patches. So I flipped to the next woodpecker page, and here was the guy out in my yard, exact down to every detail. When I checked the map, I discovered that Golden-fronted woodpeckers do NOT appear in Arizona. They're common in Oklahoma and Texas and even extreme eastern New Mexico. So I posted the sighting on the Audubon Rare Bird Line, and this morning got an email telling me that this is the FIRST report EVER in Arizona.

I don't know if they will take my word for it, but I am 100% sure of the identification. And I'm really excited!

Quail update: yesterday I saw a family of six babies--kindergartners, maybe, so young they didn't even have mohawks yet. They were SO CUTE! They kept sitting down in the dirt, as if walking around was still too new to put all that energy into. A little later I saw a family of teenagers--six or seven. I don't know if this is one of the families I saw before with the offspring having grown. They do mature very quickly.

Also--a big javelina wandered through our front yard a couple of afternoons ago on the way to the back yard. I wanted to photograph it, but by the time I got outside with my camera it was already lumbering off through the prickly pear to the neighbors' yard.


  1. How did this Brian guy get a picture of YOUR bird? The photo is awesome--and on the prickly pear. And now a javalina with no photo. You can understand why I am so skeptical. ;-)I want to buy birding binocs before I retire and can't afford to do it. Do you have a suggestion? Maybe I will link onto the photographer's site and see if he knows what to do.

  2. A friend at work has discovered a bird's nest (she didn't identify the bird) on her door in Connecticut. They can't use the door any more or the nest will fall. They dont live there all the time, they live in the city, so the bird's nested while they were not visiting. She was very excited about it. I will see if she has identified the bird. The eggs haven't hatched yet.

  3. The photo about knocked me off my chair! :)

  4. My friend is so excited about having baby birds--she says it is a phoebe--soon, if she doesn't open the door by mistake. I told her about your discovery. Who knew the whole world was made up of bird watchers? We are pouring rain today; the birds are very quiet.