Downy Woodpecker

Preoccupied with getting a good photo of the Pileated Woodpecker at Nisqually last Friday, I kept hearing a funny tapping sound behind me. Initially, I dismissed the sound as an echo, but soon realized it was the wrong pitch for an echo.

Distracted, I didn’t see these two until after I’d gotten a number of good shots of the Pileated Woodpecker. Once I decided to hunt down the source of the noise, it didn’t take long to locate this pair, though it took almost as long to get a clear picture of them as it did to get one of the woodpecker, which probably explains how I can spend four hours covering three miles of trail.

These Downy Woodpeckers kept dashing about in the pecker brush, making it nearly impossible to get them in focus as there were always branches between us, as you can probably tell from the blurry spots in the pictures. Here’s the female:

And here’s the male, as identified by the red topknot:

I wondered if these two followed me because there was a hawk hovering nearby, a hawk that flew away every time I approached. For whatever reason, they accompanied me for nearly a half a mile on my walk back, a most welcome diversion.

It’s far too easy to overlook small species like this and focus just on the larger birds. For many photographers, even Pileated Woodpeckers would probably seem too small to bother with. I like to think I’m not one of those people.