Saturday, October 29, 2011

Imperial Woodpecker

Here in Alberta we have 9 species of woodpecker (excluding the Red-Headed Woodpecker which is a vagrant) and of these I've seen all seven of the species one can normally expect to see in our part of the province. So the woodpecker is the first species that I can say I've seen all the ones that can be found in our location. I'm not sure how many song birds there are off the top of my head but I know I haven't even come close to seeing them all, which is just fine with me because every time I head out doors it is with an expectation that I stand a chance of seeing something I haven't seen before which is of course one of the reasons I find birding so enticing. Initially, I figured I would have more birds of prey or water fowl checked off my list (because there is no shortage of places to see them). I didn't imagine woodpeckers would be the first species I'd have all checked off first.

They actually aren't my favorite type but I do see them almost every time I go birding. Other than the Common Raven and the Black-billed magpie I'd say they are the most ubiquitous of bird species here. (For the record, my favorite bird is easily the Bohemian Waxwing.) Why exactly this is, I don't know. I find them hard to photograph (unless I can sneak up to a window while they are preoccupied with feeding in our front yard trees and I find them difficult to photograph). We do have them back where I grew up in Ontario but I don't recall seeing them all that much. I think its just their unique look and colouration that attracts me. They are handsome little devils at any rate.

So back to woodpeckers. I've grown increasingly fascinated with all the different types of woodpeckers we have here over the past few months. Goodness know my photography skills aren't the greatest. I actually think the woodpeckers realize this because, while it can be difficult to get a decent shot of their dark shape hidden in dense forest, they are pretty mellow creatures (quite unlike the Waxwing) so more often than not I can approach them fairly easily for a good viewing. Now, whether I walk away with a half-decent photo is another matter entirely.

Anyhow, all this is to say that I came across a little video of the Imperial Woodpecker, now thought to be extinct, that piqued my interest the other day. Its an old video as the accompanying article explains and is brought to you courtesy of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which is responsible for the annual Great Backyard Bird Count, which by the way I also highly recommend.

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