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Downy woodpecker        Images © Mark A. Chappell

Downy woodpeckers (the smallest of the North American woodpeckers) occur over a very large geographic range.   The bird above was foraging in old eucalyptus trees at the Bolsa Chica wetlands in coastal Orange County, California. The bird in two of the lower images was using dead snags as a drilling platform (shared with a male red-breasted sapsucker ).   Woodpeckers use species-specific drumming sounds as part of their auditory repertoire.  This bird was photographed on an overcast day, which is good for making images of birds that are generally starkly black and white; I took the pictures near Forest Falls in the San Bernardino Mountains in southern California.    The bird below at left was photographed in Eagle River, Alaska. All of these images show males (with a small red patch on the back of the head.   Downies closely resemble the larger hairy woodpecker.

  • Canon 10D, 1D3, 1D4, or 7D2; 500 mm f4 IS lens plus 1.4X and 2X converter or 800 mm IS lens with 1.4X converter, fill-in flash (2004, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2015)