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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Mistaken Identity No. 2

The collage (made by yours truly) posted atop today's blog entry features images of a downy woodpecker when he/she visited my urban (NYC) garden this past April.

This woodpecker (or his/hers identical twin) had initally visited me in November of 2012, and at that time I did some research to determine his/her identity. 

After querying a number of sources with photo-ops, I made the determination that my friend was a Hairy Woodpecker!

Therefore, going forward, I began referring to my striking guy/gal (in posts here on Blogger, as well as in entries on tumblr, and TLLG's Facebook Page), as a hairy woodpecker! I even posted a number of images on a number of TLLG's Pinterest Boards calling him/her a hairy woodpecker.

However, I have just discovered that my friend is not a hairy woodpecker, but is a downy, so I am here today to offer my apologies to him/her for being subjected to a case of mistaken identity!

And I might've gone on referring to him/her as a hairy, had I not come across something in my Facebook newsfeed that dealt with the question Hairy OR Downy. Upon reading the aforementioned info, I contacted the source with my concerns accompanied by a photo-op and I was told this: "A Hairy has a large bill as long as his head and a downy has a bill 1/3 as long as his head."

This description would probably be helpful to most, however, since I am legally blind, it is often difficult to decipher details even with visual aids and adaptive software! I often make distinctions re bird types through their sounds, but the woodpecker which had visited me was the quiet type, offering no clues through songs!

Just what is a visually challenged birder to do to resolve a mystery when only visual clues are available?

In my case, I contacted Bill Bossman, blogger and birder extraordinaire, with a willingness to help others with questions. As  you may recall, dear reader, Mr. Bossman had helped me this past March when I contacted him to see if I had a  tree swallow or snowbird visiting me, and that it turned out the bird in question (or mistaken identity number one) was a dark-eyed junco!

In any event, I emailed Mr. Bossman with my hairy versus downy query and here's what he wrote:

"Yes, these two do look so much alike.

The bird pictured is a Downy Woodpecker. The description you read is correct. The Hairy's bill is much longer in proportion to the bird's head.

Practice, and looking at several photos of each bird will soon have you expert at distinguishing between the two."

It is with a grateful heart that I thank Mr. Bossman for getting back to me, for in this day and age, there are not a lot of people who take the time to correspond; even though there are a number of ways to touch base with someone!

And I am quite grateful to know the identity of this woodpecker, even though I "subscribe" to Eric Berne's philosophy (that I have cited in the past —  within my cyber-venues) "The moment a little boy is concerned with which is a jay and which is a sparrow, he can no longer see the birds or hear them sing.” 

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