Birding Despite Disability

Obsessions Don't Care About Limitations

Downy on the Down-low

Our backyard is typically very active with birds, especially juncos this time of year. There are plenty of feeders and spilled seed to keep everyone happy.

Mid-morning today, Claire excitedly called out “Hawk in the back! Hawk in the back!” A Sharp-hinned Hawk had perched right above our suet feeder and was inspecting the grounds.

It seems impossible to photograph uncommon birds without there being branches in the way.

And all the songbirds? Gone. Not a trace. The only activity on the ground was a single Gray Squirrel, too big to care about this accipiter. Then Claire noticed there was another bird: about two meters up the same branch, and clinging to the underside so as to escape detection was a frozen, male Downy Woodpecker. After a few minutes the hawk flew to a much lower perch, a foot off the ground, and the downy scurried up around the side of the branch so as to stay hidden. See it, in the photo below?

Accipter near the ground, being watched

The hawk stayed there for about fifteen minutes, and the woodpecker didn’t move more than a millimeter the whole time. After the hawk moved down the hillside, away from our yard, Mr. Downy wasted no time in zipping off in the diametrically opposite direction. Smart guy!

One response to “Downy on the Down-low”

  1. Thank you for the beautiful pictures. Although it was blocked by many branches, it was good to be able to capture that moment. You are lucky to have so many visitors to your backyard. That’s great. I want to attract the Woodpecker Downy to my backyard. Can you share how to attract them?

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