Posts Tagged 'Downy Woodpecker'

Maplewood: March 27th 2010

I was expecting it to be a bit of a wet Saturday but luckily the weather forecasts were a little off and it turned out to be a pretty decent day, which in turn led to an excellent time out at Maplewood Conservation Area. I think everyone else was expecting rain too as I only encountered one other person in my first hour or so of birding.

Soon after taking the path that heads to the mudflats I spotted a male Downy Woodpecker and not long after that a second one. The two were busily foraging for insects or other arthropods and after I stood still for a minute or so one of them came within two metres of where I was standing (1).

The tide was too far out for me to confidently identify everything at the mudflats but I was able to spot two Turkey Vultures soaring high above Burnaby Mountain and a little while later a Rufous Hummingbird spent a couple of seconds flying about the bushes at the lookout. At the south east corner of the property I heard the buzzing call of two Bewick’s Wrens coming from the brush which was shortly followed by a brief appearance of one of the birds. I wonder if these were two males establishing their respective territories as this type of call is used in such situations (2). In the distance a group of Red Crossbills were audible.

After heading across the footbridge that spans the Old Barge Channel I soon noticed the distinctive shape of a perched Red-tailed Hawk in a tree near the center of the west side. I quickly walked to the trail that runs through the middle of the area and took some pictures through my binoculars before a few crows managed to chase the hawk off.

While watching the hawk I noticed that it made frequent looks down at the ground below the tree it was sitting in. Perhaps it was looking for one of these Garter Snakes…

Over at the West Pond a couple of Yellow-rumped Warblers (Audubon’s Warbler) were catching some flying insects. It’s great to see these birds again and I can’t imagine it’ll be much longer before some of the other Warblers start showing up on a regular basis.


  1. Jackson, Jerome A. and Henri R. Ouellet. 2002. Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online:
  2. Kennedy, E. Dale and Douglas W. White. 1997. Bewick’s Wren (Thryomanes bewickii), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online:

Maplewood: September 26th 2009

I was at Maplewood again around midday today. As soon as I arrived at the mudflats I heard the call of an American Pipit (a low series of high, clear or jingling phrases tseewl-tseewl-tseewl . . . or pleetrr-pleetrr-pleetrr and other variations; given in flight for up to 15 seconds according to Sibley’s). There were three present foraging on the mudflat about a metre from the water’s edge. About five minutes after I arrived, however, they took flight to the South. Scanning the ducks present revealed the usual mix of American Widgeon, Northern Pintail, and a few Mallards that have been here for the past couple of weeks.

Two ducks soon caught my attention though. My instinct told me they were Blue-winged Teal but I decided to consult my field guide before positively identifying the two birds as they were in non-breeding plumage and my confidence at ascertaining the correct ID in this state is still a little sketchy. They were indeed Blue-winged Teal. The ducks were on the water close to shore about twenty metres north of the viewing area. Early August into mid October is when this species migrates through British Columbia (Cambell et al 1990). For many their final destination for the winter is northern South America although a larger proportion of birds banded in western provinces and states tend to be found in Mexico (Rohwer et al 2002).

Once again I didn’t have enough time to see what was going on the western side of the area so I went straight for the bird feeders near the entrance. Their wasn’t as much activity as I had seen yesterday evening but several species including Black-capped Chickadee, House Finch and Song Sparrow visited the seed while I was there. A male Downy Woodpecker also ate some suet before flying off into the trees.

I often feel that I learn far more about the world when out birding than I do while reading a textbook or attending a lecture…


Campbell, R. W., N. K. Dawe, I. McTaggart-Cowan, J. M. Cooper, G. W. Kaiser and M. C. E. McNall. 1990. The birds of British Columbia. Vol. 1: introduction and loons through waterfowl. R. Br. Columbia Mus., Victoria.

Rohwer, Frank C., William P. Johnson and Elizabeth R. Loos. 2002. Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online:

Maplewood: September 25th 2009

I was able to find the time to visit Maplewood Conservation Area this Friday evening. The bird feeders in the fenced off maintenance/gardening area near the entrance had been stocked full of seed so there was a fair bit of activity occurring. Black-capped Chickadees, Song Sparrows, and a few Spotted Towhees were, of course, present. A male and juvenile Downy Woodpecker was also there feeding on peanuts. This is the first time I’ve seen a juvenile Downy Woodpecker at Maplewood this year. I wonder if it is the offspring of a resident pair? This seems likely as young birds will remain within their parent’s territory for several weeks and adults are known to drive young other than their own form their territory (Lawrence 1967). Also present near the entrance were several Yellow-rumped Warblers (all in first winter plumage), Ruby-crowned Kinglets, juvenile Cedar Waxwings and American Robins, as well as a Red-breasted Sapsucker.

I didn’t have enough time to walk the paths on the western side of the property so instead I made my way to the mudflats. Northern Pintail, American Widgeon, Mallard, and Canada Goose were all accounted for.


Lawrence, L. de K. 1967. A comparative life-history study of four species of woodpeckers. Ornithol. Monogr. 5: 1–156.