Laura Erickson's For the Birds

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Strange Hybrid?

Last week when I checked the photos on my BirdCam, I came across this one. It's funny how the junco is sitting precisely where it can look to someone unfamiliar with birds like it has a Downy Woodpecker body!


  1. Laura, great picture! Had me going there for a second before I read the post! Sounds like you have a neat place. Can't wait to hear what all happens from that balcony. Hope you are Fung Shuiing your new place. Send pictures. I think you are in your element there.

  2. That's exactly what I thought! :) Tricky little bird you've got there.

    Nice work with your BirdCam! I just got one up and running in my backyard. It's pretty cool to see what's been going on all day at my feeder.

  3. This is totally off the subject of your blog, but I have a problem. I am a high school student and about 94% of the students and teachers there either don't know enough about conservation to be able to do anything or don't have an appreciation at all for the natural world around them. I need a way to convey to them the importance of conserving our natural world. I have a love of the birds and would love to share my passion for that as well. All my attempts have been blown off or scoffed at. After reading your book, I realized the importance of saving our planet. If you have any suggestions e-mail me at I understand that you are busy (and have had minimal internet access). Please give this a thought.

  4. Fun picture. And welcome to upstate New York!

  5. Hi Laura,
    The reason you find this picture puzzling is it isn't a junco. the bird you are looking at is the rare and elusive Junky Woodpecker. It is seen only in Ithaca, and in my days at Cornell it was seen only by those of us who were on the way home from Zinck's or the Alt Heidelberg (the latter of which burned down when I was a junior and the former of which I believe has long since closed. how sad.) But Junky Woodpeckers are so-called because they nest in junkyards, usually in the wheel wells of an 1976 Oldsmobile. If you're lucky enough to hear it's mating call, you'll find it does a creditable imitation of the Beach Boys.

    Rob Rachlin
    Greensboro, NC

  6. So, Rob, if you're so smart, what Beach Boys songs do Junky Woodpeckers sing? They're from the East, so probably don't sing "Wish They All Could Be California Gulls." Now that you mention it, though, I think I may have heard one this week calling out "Ba-ba-ba Bop on a tree."