Downy woodpecker and new beaver signs

Some days there seems to be little to see or hear along my jogs.  Fewer birds, more urban buildup by the block.  Today’s jog was a long one, with frequent stops, along the waterfront and up McKay Creek a way – across from that huge blue crane.  On the way, at this little bit of restored creek, just east of the Burrard Yacht Club, I heard pecking, looked up, and there in a small pine tree was a downy woodpecker.  Got some blurry snaps, but a good video.

The other day I read that the brains of woodpeckers are not “floating” in a very thin cushion of liquid, as our brains are, so the hammering doesn’t cause brain damage from the collision of brain tissue with skull – no room for the brain to move.  When you see the rate of pounding, you can see that there has to be something major to keep them from having perpetual strokes!  and here’s the video–

Now for the beaver indicators.  I have been on the McKay Creek trail at least within the last 6 weeks and there was no sign of beaver.  But today- very obvious signs – that tree has been hacked and hewed to a great degree!  The tree itself has recently been topped, about 20 feet up.  It didn’t look very rotten and who knows if this was some preventive move by the City in the face of the beaver ventures!  Then I looked upstream, above a right angle curve of the stream, and it surely looks like a dam is being built!  The whole creek here has a number of flood control features – barriers of large rocks/boulders crossing the stream at right angles with just one open area in the middle, etc.  I wonder if it will be necessary to get rid of the dam.  It doesn’t look very large at this point and who knows, it may be a help for when the rains really come in.  I must do some informal monitoring.

No vids – didn’t see any beaver in person, but the indicators are very apparent for sure!  Love the waves of crescent dents in the tree trunk, from the top and bottom teeth.  Working both directions.  Very neat and precise.








That’s it for today! oh, did see two Red Admiral butterflies – but couldn’t get close.










flicker challenge above

This just a few days ago – outside of Wild Birds Unlimited, where there is a wooded, vine-y bluff, with a few trees going up the slanting ground.  This is a fir tree (?not too good on trees), right at the store doorway.  I was out for a few minutes and heard this kind of chirping, piping sound, with lots of fluttery activity.  Looked up and there were three flickers just hopping around, flipping up and down, beak-fencing, two at a time, and then the third came in, maybe replacing one of them.  It was hard to tell them apart with all that quickness.  Could tell one was female, one male, but didn’t get a good enough chance to tell the third one.  They did this utterly undisturbed by traffic, people going below them, the blue jays heading to the feeders.  The pictures and videos aren’t National Geographic quality, but they do tell the story!  I don’t know what/why this kind of activity this time of year, maybe viewers will? I did a google search but didn’t come up with anything.

So here are some snapshots, then the video.  Don’t you just love that brilliant red/orange of the tail feathers?  and notice the spiky ends of the tails, that woodpeckers use to get a good grip on the tree trunks while they feed.






And now for the vid– even through the branches, in poor light, and relatively far away, it’s still a spectacular sighting!  and I love that “whickering” sound they make!

Keep in touch! drop me a note if you get a chance!





Getting Down and Dusty!

well, if there’s not much water, dust will have to do — to clean feathers and deter mites. There is a family of house sparrows, with three young, hanging out near Wild Birds Unlimited – they feed, drink, twitter, chase each other — and today they’d created a dust bowl to bathe in. Get’s kind of crowded! Vid taken through a window, so the dust on it combines with the dust they’re stirring up to make for a “soft” focus.  But you can see what’s happening anyway!








And here’s the vid – it’s really doing a thorough job!  Excellent avian hygiene!



Pileated woodpecker –working hard for its grubs!

A marvelous sighting just a couple of weeks ago.  A lovely sunny morning, near some playing fields not far from home.  This is a pileated woodpecker on one of the few truly old and rotten tree stubs in my area. The tree must have lost its top in a wind, or maybe cut for some reason – whatever, it clearly has a lot of grubs to search for. It is fascinating to see the power of the bird, using every muscle in its body- reminds me of watching body builders doing some major lift. I watched for many minutes, finally went away, the bird still oblivious to me and the sounds from the nearby playground.  Got a number of stills and videos.


Really digging in here!


And here’s the vid– slightly over a minute.  You can see it quickly cleaning its feathers – -maybe a bug got to it!







Evening Iris -(irises?)

Very little sun these days, but with the days being long– and often misty– an evening jog can be very restful.  At about 830 tonight I started out and the light was very gentle.  Light carrying its own light, so to speak.  I noticed that the iris(es) were out in full and decided to try to record every shade I saw.  Here they are, ending with a portrait of Hodge embedded among some blue ones.











And here he is!!  Jogging companion par excellence!!





flicker on a rusty chimney–mite fighter!

(didn’t hit publish until today- May 14!  but still worth watching!) Finally a bit of sun today.  As I was sluggishly jogging along, I saw this flicker on a very handsome chimney.   It’s colours and that of the bird seemed to be parts of an overall painting.  This flicker looked so ruffled that I wondered if it is a very early maturing juvenile. It tapped away – so quickly that it seems not to be coordinated with the sound! You can see it was preening/cleaning repeatedly.  Here’s a first view — tapping on the chimney.

The it moved to the flat roof just aside from the chimney.  It was up to something!

After a few moments, I saw it half-hidden by the low wall of the flat part of the roof nearby–


Then saw that it was on its belly, spreading out its wings in the sun! It did that for only perhaps 30 seconds, getting up once and going back down again.  I think that is one way they combat mites.  In fact, in a nature publication called The Spruce, they say that:  “Sunning helps birds control body parasites and feather mites by moving these pests around to different areas of the body where they can be nibbled away. Sunning can also make the oil from the preen glad more liquid and easier to spread to different feathers in a thin, even layer.” 





The last view it was sitting near the edge of the roof, still looking rather scruffly, even with all that preening and sunning.