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The Daily Bucket is a regular feature of the Backyard Science group.  It is a place to note any observations you have made of the world around you.  Snails, fish, insects, weather, meteorites, climate, birds and/or flowers.  All are worthy additions to the bucket.  Please let us know what is going on around you in a comment.  Include, as close as is comfortable for you, where you are located.
March 22, 2013
Lopez Island, Washington

downy distance
I don't see woodpeckers often in my neighborhood, besides our resident Red-Shafted Northern Flicker, so I was pretty excited when I saw one at my suet feeder a month ago. That braced stance told me at once it was a woodpecker, along with the black, white, and bit of brilliant red. But it had some yellow coloring too, which mystified me, and other Bucketeers when I shared this observation. Someone noted that the Western Sibley's Field Guide mentions an off-white color in some Downys, so I did some research, asked a local long-time birder, and came to the conclusion it had to be a male Downy woodpecker (Picoides pubescens), based on its size and other markings.

But that yellow! I was beginning to think maybe my mind was playing tricks, remembering incorrectly, since I hadn't gotten a photo of it. But today it visited me again, and I snapped these pics. A digital camera is an invaluable tool for a naturalist!

Indeed, the tail is yellow-orange, and the belly looks light yellow to me (BirdWeb calls this a "dingy tan"...what do you think?). Even though the pic was taken through a section of dirty window - sorry! tricky to clean that part - it was in bright sunlight, so true to color. This must be a regional variation of the Downy. Milly later saw one with a yellow tail on the NE corner of the Olympic peninsula, right across the water from me, so this pattern is apparently in the Salish Sea area of northwest Washington at least.

downy side
downy head, tail
One feature I could not see from this angle was the white back, but that was visible when he landed on the plum tree around the corner. I took these pics while he was working the bark there; unfortunately it was straight into the rising sun, and through branches, so the quality is poor. But you can see his white back marking from this angle.
downy tree distance
downy tree close
So, we have a yellow-tailed light-yellow-bellied form of Downy woodpecker in this part of the country!

Another new bird for me, The Yellow-Rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronata), has been visiting the suet for the last week. This is the Audubon's form of YRW, with a brilliant yellow throat.

warbler at suet
warbler eating
More birds, brightening up the morning with their yellows:

Every few days, pine siskins (Carduelis pinus) take over the sunflower seed feeder, flashing their yellow-accented wings at each other and any other birds brave enough to try for a perch.

siskin diving
siskin shouting
siskin spread
They arrive in a flock, stir up a lot of drama, and then depart en masse until another day.

Red Crossbills (Loxia curvirostra) also come and go as a group, so there will be days when I don't see any. The female crossbills are a lovely gold colored yellow. Crossbills usually ignore the posturing siskins, like the one in this pic, apparently oblivious to them flapping and screaming above her. Today, the siskins and crossbills overlapped, monopolizing the feeder, so I didn't see as many of the usual feeder birds. Very likely they'll be back tomorrow.

crossbill and siskin
Wonderful sunny yellow-accented birds, such a pleasure to watch from my window, on this unexpectedly sunny spring day. The stormy weather has eased up for a few days.

What's happening in your neighborhood? All observations are welcome in the Bucket!

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