Posted by: atowhee | January 20, 2018


1-20-18    I got this image of two Acorn Woodpeckers touching beaks.  Was this an adult and young so long after breeding season?  Was this some pre-courtship or pair bonding activity as it would be with ravens?  I can find NO mention of such behavior in any of my references.

Here is suggestion from Pamela Johnston: “It looks like courtship. Many species have interactions between the potential mates in which the male feeds the female or responds to her begging behavior. My interpretation is that he shows her that he can feed young birds by responding to her imitations.”AW-COURTSHIP

Gray: the sidewalks, the low clouds, the sun leaking through a sky-curtain, the very air.  To see two Lesser Goldfinches being golden was a visual jolt.  Then, later, the faces of Acorn Woodpeckers, high in the old oaks.  They were loudly discussing some pertinent matter.  Several speaking in turn.  I like to think this congress of woodpeckers was agreed on the goal to do what’s best for their colony and their acorn storage. Unlike a human congress we all know of, there the goal seems to be for one greedy faction or another to hoard all the acorns to the detriment of the test of the ‘peckers.AW-GRANERYAW-GRANERY2AW-GUD

My pet peregrine—I assume it is the same bird—was back, in an oak treetop this time.   A few days ago I called a peregrine a merlin, now I have reversed my falcon-fallacy.  More than one carfeful examiner have corrected my ID–this is in fact, a Merlin.  Eating, though I could not make out what bird he’d caught. The woodpeckers were active and unperturbed just below him in the same oaks…so I assume it wasn’t one of their colony.  The thin toes indicate it was not a duck and larger than a sparrow or finch.PEREATS1PEREATS2

The No Name Pond had an assortment of ducks.  There was a pair of Hoodies and a pair of Bufflehead.  I assume they were mated pairs as they swam near one another.  The quartet of Ring-necked ducks seemed suspended somewhere between menage and mélange—three males and single female.  I don’t expect that grouping  to last long. Our wintering ducks generally pair off before they fly off.


Hellebore, heather, a bold azalea, primroses and a premature plum are all blooming in our neighborhood in quiet corners of suburban gardens.  The viburnum have put out clusters of tiny purple buds.  Rosemary is there for any bee brave enough to appear in public.  Hazelnut trees are hung with catkins up to five inches long. Some daffodils are now nine inches high with stalks topped by yellow buds.  Crocus and iris are already racing upward toward spring. Most springlike was this soft-bodied character out for lunch on January 19th.  No slugabed he.IMG_0582IMG_0585IMG_0586IMG_0589Pinot Noir Drive NW, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Jan 20, 2018 4:00 PM – 4:20 PM.  5 species

Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)  5
Merlin  1
California Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  3
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  X

No Name Pond, McMinnville, OR, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Jan 20, 2018. 7 species

Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)  40
Mallard (Northern) (Anas platyrhynchos platyrhynchos/conboschas)  11
Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca)  8
Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)  4
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)  2
Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)  2
Downy Woodpecker (Pacific) (Picoides pubescens gairdnerii/turati)  1

Merlot Marsh–private land, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Jan 20, 2018.  4 species

Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) (Junco hyemalis [oreganus Group])  12
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  6
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  20
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  2


  1. Where exactly is this pond? Just north of Baker Creek? Although my life list is not terribly small, I have yet to ID a Peregrine in the wild, and would love to get a look at it!

  2. […] via A TOUCHING SCENE, BUT WHY? — Towheeblog […]

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