Saturday, September 3, 2011

Gila Woodpecker

The Gila Woodpeckers barely make their way into New Mexico and California, so in a sense it's actually more unique to Arizona than the Cactus Wren (state bird) which ranges even into Texas and Colorado. The Arizona/Strickland's Woodpecker is only found in Arizona, but it's too uncommon to be the state bird. The Gila Woodpecker is a zebra-backed picidae like the Golden-Fronted and Red-Bellied, but the Gila's only cranial feature is a small, rounded red cap. These photos also allowed me to observe the zebra-striping on the inside of the tail, which I'd never been able to see before since they usually perch parallel on a tree with their back to you.
They're fairly common around Phoenix, though still hard enough to get a picture of since they continually circle around their trees and are pretty shy to begin with. I was lucky to get a few in-flight shots though. Like other woodpeckers, the Gila flies with several quick wing beats before allowing itself to glide and loose a bit of altitude.
With all the sightings, I was a bit peeved I had not pulled off any good shots of a Gila Pecker, but then this fine fellow had his picture taken 09/24/2011 at the Desert Botanical Garden. Click on the images for a larger viewing.


Courtesy of Cornell Lab of Ornithology

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