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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. 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. Each note is a record that we can refer to in the future as we try to understand the patterns that are quietly unwinding around us.

Castro Valley, CA

Continued below the dodder

I have often noted that we have a Nuttall's woodpecker (Picoides nuttallii) resident in the neighborhood. Even when not in my yard, his presence is known off and on throughout the day. Because the bird is a California specialty, I decided to provide a bit of information on them.  In the process I learned that a "toss-up" bird I spotted in the distance in Anza-Borrego a while back, that I had called a Nuttalls' due to how far West it was, was almost certainly a Ladderback, due to the specific habitat it was in.

For more information, Cornell's "all about birds" page, which is also the source of some of the detail in this diary, is

The Nuttall's woodpecker is a small black-and-white woodpecker with a black-and-white barred back. It has white streaks on side of head and the male has red patch on back of the head.  It is primarily found in California's oak woodlands and non-coniferous riparian woods. It is only found in California.

It looks a great deal like a ladder-backed woodpecker. The ladder-backed has more red on the head and a little  more white on the face due to broader white stripes. They are pretty much identical in size range, 6.3 to 7.1 inches, or about 2/3 the size of a hairy woodpecker. Luckily, in the area where their ranges overlap their habitats do not. The Ladder-back is a bird of desert scrub.

Though the size is close to that of a downy, which runs about 5.5 to 6.7 inches, the downy has a vertical white stripe in the middle of the back instead of the horizontal stripes of the Nuttall's and ladder-backed.

These photos are from Wikimedia commons, but I had to download them and stash them in my Flickr account, for now, in order to use them in a diary. This probably messed up the metadata, so the attribution will be below each picture.



"By Mike & Chris (Nuttall's woodpecker  Uploaded by Snowmanradio) CC-BY-SA-2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons" href="



"By Alan D. Wilson, CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons" href="

Comparative, ladder-backed above and Nuttall's below:

"By United States Department of the Interior [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons" href="



"By Wolfgang Wander GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons" href="


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Now It's Your Turn What have you noted happening in your area or travels? As usual post your observations as well as their general location in the comments.

Thank you.

Originally posted to Backyard Science on Sat Aug 30, 2014 at 06:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by Birds and Birdwatching.

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