Woodpecker Diversity in San Francisco
September 15, 2014
Wildlife photographer Janet Kessler shared these photographs of an acorn woodpecker in Glen Canyon in late August, 2014 (and they’re copyright to her). It was a great capture, though she wasn’t thrilled with the quality. “They were taken under bad lighting at a high ISO,” she explained.
We loved their expressiveness. Acorn woodpeckers have clown faces with a comical red crown. They reminded us of a childhood song, ” Hear him pickin’ out a melody/ Peck, peck, peckin’ at the same old tree/ he’s as happy as a bumblebee…”
It’s a delight to find so many species of woodpeckers in San Francisco.
The Audubon Society started its Christmas Bird Counts in 1915, and by 1945 they had held 18 counts. In those 18 counts, only three species of woodpecker showed up: Northern flickers; downy woodpeckers; and acorn woodpeckers like these birds here.
Woodpeckers need trees, preferably mature trees. All those tree-planting efforts from the turn of the last century have created a wonderful habitat for birds.
Recent Christmas Bird Counts in San Francisco doubled the number of woodpecker species. In addition to the earlier three, they showed Hairy woodpeckers; Nuttall’s woodpeckers; and sapsuckers (both red-naped and yellow-bellied, a division that didn’t exist in 1945).
Hairy woodpeckers, like the ones in the pictures here, are larger than downy woodpeckers and have bigger beaks.
This is a red-breasted sapsucker, photographed in San Francisco.
And recently, birders have reported seeing a Lewis’s woodpecker in Buena Vista Park, flying between cypress trees and “a tall eucalyptus.”
Northern flickers are breeding in the city now. (The photograph here and in the linked article are also by Janet Kessler and copyright to her.) The baby birds in the picture below are nearly grown.
Nuttall’s woodpeckers are breeding here too. We’d like to thank Richard Drechsler for these wonderful pictures of a Nuttall’s woodpecker nest, below.
It was taken in the Potrero Hill area – where, incidentally, Caltrans is cutting down a lot of trees and neighbors are trying to save them.
We would like to thank Janet Kessler and Richard Drechsler for giving permission to use their photographs in this article.