Back to the Black-backed Woodpecker

I had another trawl through yesterday’s images of the Parc Mont Royal Black-backed Woodpecker. Here are a few from different angles.

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The weather was very cold and the woodpecker fluffed up a lot. On this photo you can see the fine feathers raised in much the same way that the hairs on your arm/leg/top lip might in cold weather.


At one point the woodpecker started drumming. All of the Black-backed Woodpeckers I’ve heard drumming have been males and the raps tend to be a bit sapsucker like, clear, well-spaced. Her drumming was faster with shorter spaces, interesting. Unfortunately I left my little microphone at home this time, still I’m not sure my fingers would have actually worked in the cold anyway.

For much of the time the bird was feeding actively, meaning that it rarely stopped moving, particularly its head. It would repeatedly swing from side to side while clinging to the trunk before starting on another chip out of a grub. Once one was available it had a look of concentration on its face similar to that on a human when searching down the back of the sofa for lost change! The grub is extracted not via the bill, which is really the heavy duty tool employed in the first part of this job, but by the tongue.

The two shots below are not razor sharp but show the facial expression and then the use of the tongue. I also note that the eye shape is slightly ovoid, becoming more so when the bird was actively chipping. In several shots I have (not reproduced here) the eye membrane had come across, presumably to protect it from the woodpecker excavation equivalent of sawdust.

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