Thursday, January 12, 2023

Downy vs Hairy Woodpecker and Red Fox vs squirrels

Despite the title of this post, these two similar woodpeckers were not fighting. Indeed, I have not yet photographed them next to each other to compare their size and plumage details. 

The Downy Woodpecker is most common. It measures 6 3/4 in (17 cm) and often exhibits an inconspicuous "downy powderpuff" in front of its eyes. Here is one at the suet feeder:

Note the placement of the male Downy's red occipital patch and the black bars on his white outer tail feathers:

For comparison, here is the larger (9 1/4 in / 24 cm) and proportionately longer-billed Hairy Woodpecker:

This male's red patch is split in two by a black band, a variable trait. He also lacks the outer tail feather markings. (When I first learned this my mnemonic was "The Hairy Hain't got Hash marks"):

Despite their significant difference in size, they sometimes can be difficult to separate in the field. While birds in the hand (or on the nearby feeders) often appear smaller than expected, those in the distance may seem to be bigger. Their calls and drumming patterns differ. The head pattern on the Hairy may vary considerably in different parts of its range. It also is regionally more variable in length, but the sizes of these two species do not overlap.

The pair of Northern Cardinals disappeared for almost a month in mid-November. Now they are back in the yard (photographed through the window):

A Red-tailed Hawk roosted in the back yard as the sun was about to set directly behind. It took quite a bit of processing to obtain a halfway decent image:

Two Carolina Wrens were eating seeds beneath the feeders (which I take inside every evening). Predominately insect-eaters, they usually favor the suet:

Through the windows, I obtained rather soft but endearing photos of a Black-capped Chickadee:

Bright lichens covered the south side of boulders in the front yard:

There was a particularly colorful sunset on January 2:

Waning light reflected from the swimming pool cover on January 8:

We had a dusting of snow earlier this week. At 7:15 AM the Ring camera at our main "front" door alerted us to the presence of a Red Fox. It entered running at full speed down the steps and tried to surprise two Gray Squirrels which were scavenging under the feeder locations. Watch the entire video as the fox fails to catch its quarry and returns to see if there are any more squirrels. Then, the fox  moves across the back of the property, entering the rear lawn:

The fox, first visible to the far right, traversed the entire length of the fence along the drop-off at the far edge of the lawn:

= = =  = = =  = = = =  = = = = =

Linking to:

Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday)

Wild Bird Wednesday

My Corner of the World

Please visit the links to all these posts to see some excellent photos on display


  1. Lovely pictures and I've learned something about woodpeckers too!

  2. I would have never known that black/white bird was a woodpecker if you hadn't told me! He's cute and I'm happy to meet him

  3. Hello Ken,
    our Great Spotted Woodpecker male also has the red neck patch. I always admire your bird pictures. Your birds are so much more colorful than ours. But the highlight for me today is of course the red fox. I have squirrels in the garden, but not a red fox yet. But who knows - it may still come 😉.
    Kind regards - Elke

  4. Such a beautiful variety of birds and sky sceneries

  5. I'm captivated by your photos of the Northern Cardinals. Beautiful!

  6. As usual your skies are beautiful. That cardinal seems to say, "Don't mess with me!" Have a great weekend, Ken!

  7. I learn so much every time I visit your blog. All I can say is thank you.

  8. Fantastic series. Glad you are surrounded by wonderful avian creatures

  9. Beautiful birds and amazing sky captures...

  10. Great post. I like the fox on the security camera! I only get deer these days.

  11. I enjoyed all your photos. The sunset and cardinals are my favorites!

  12. Another terrific collection of outstanding photographs, Ken!

    Great comparison of the Downy and Hairy. Only a few places around here to find the Hairy.

    Birds, fox, squirrels, landscape .... you let us share it all!

  13. Hello Ken,
    Love your woodpecker photos and the beautiful Cardinal couple. Cute shots of the Chickadee and the Wren. Great video of the fox chase, it was a quick mover. Beautiful skies! Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, have a happy weekend. PS, thank you for leaving me a comment.

  14. We see the Downy more often but I've finally learned to ID them...most of the time. Love your photos. Stay warm and safe. Hope everyone is well now.

  15. Wonderful images, but the Cardinal steals the show for me.

  16. Awesome woodpecker images. I was also impressed with the comparisons of the two.
    Enjoy the week ahead as best as possible and thanks for joining us at IRBB.

  17. A lovely series of photos! I love them all.
    Thank you so much for sharing at

  18. Another set of fab photos you never fail each week :-)
    Have a chirpytastic week 👍

  19. We see (one or both?) of those woodpecker species at our feeder quite often. Today while out hiking we spotted a pileated woodpecker and I could not believe how big the pair of them looked but that bright red head made them easy to spot in the nearby woods. I was so bummed that I had left my camera in the car.

  20. You are so talented in doing these photos!
    Congratulations! Thank you for the visit!
    Happy WW!

  21. I always look forward for your post, your passion towards bird photography is commendable. Great sky shots.Thanks for sharing with Garden Affair.


Thank you for visiting Rosyfinch Ramblings! I will enjoy a visit to your page just as soon as possible. Some anonymous comments and some containing active links may not be accepted.