Spotted on a Lazy Morning
One morning, I wandered out for breakfast and saw a Nuttall’s Woodpecker (Picoides nuttalli) on a nearby oak. Quickly forgetting about breakfast, I ran to get my camera. Then, I snuck outside and creeped slowly toward the oak tree. I saw not one, but four!
The male quickly jumped to another oak with the smaller two. However, the female looked at me curiously and ignored me. I stayed put, knowing I wasn’t bothering her. She jumped quickly around pecking here, pecking there. I followed her with my camera as she bounced up and down the oak.
I was surprised to see how flexible her neck became when she got to a good spot. In those areas, she would pause for longer and maneuver her head in some crazy directions. She always seemed to get the right angle.
She stayed longer than I thought she would. After about fifteen minutes, she flew to the next oak down the line and found some food there. I guess she did not find too much because she flew back shortly there after.
I stayed and watched until my stomach grumbled and I quietly backed away to go eat breakfast while she ate hers.
Nuttall’s Woodpecker General Characteristics:
- Black and White back with narrow white stripes
- White belly with black spots along sides of belly
- Males have a red spot toward the back of the crown, females do not
- Tail feathers have more spots than stripes
- Nests usually in dead standing trees
- Most of diet is insects, but some acorns
They especially likes oaks and being near streams.
Most of California with some in Baja, Mexico and a bit of southern Oregon
Nuttall’s Woodpecker & the Traveling Nature Journal
I used Nat Geo’s Birds of Western North America to make sure I saw a Nuttall’s Woodpecker. In this area of California, the ranges of the Nuttall’s Woodpecker slightly overlaps with the Ladder Backed Woodpecker. I find this field guide to have enough photos to properly make the distinction. I may have triple checked this one, but the photos clearly showed it as a Nuttall’s Woodpecker.
When I approached this spread, I began by sketching the female Nuttall’s Woodpecker. Obviously, it could use some work, but I was a bit rusty. I used the photo in the spread to sketch. Next, I printed the photo out and used double sided tape to add them. I definitely like adding in the sketch and photo first. If I write everything first, sometimes I struggle to add the photo and sketch!
For this spread, I kept the identifying characteristics section small. I wanted as much space as possible for the field notes. As I wrote, they poured out of me. I probably could have written more about how graceful this female Nuttall’s Woodpecker moved and ate.