Thanks to my friend Roberta, I found the Red-headed Woodpeckers at Bok Tower this past Sunday! They have been somewhat of a local sensation, discovered by birders a few weeks back in the pine trees around the Pinewoods Estate. I’d never really explored that part of the gardens, and I was excited to find that it was very birdy. Warblers hopped around, Blue Jays circled their territory, and a small group of 5-7 Red-headed Woodpeckers gathered acorns for winter…
From what I’ve been told, Red-headed Woodpeckers used to be regular inhabitants of Central Florida. Due to habitat loss of their pine forests, they are getting harder to find. Herman tortured my dad for at least a year with reports of a Red-headed Woodpecker at the Circle B Bar Reserve, and my dad watched and watched for that bird, but never saw it. So I took him up to Chinsegut to get his lifer Red-headed Woodpecker for Father’s Day. Now my dad only has to drive a few minutes away, because the birds are at Bok Tower! There were several adults with bright red heads, and also at least two juvenile birds with dark gray heads.
The birds were incredibly active storing acorns in the nooks and crannies of dead trees. We stood watching as they would fly across the road to a huge oak tree, grab an acorn, and then fly to the dead tree to stash the acorn. They did this repeatedly for several hours. I had to chuckle when one bird brought back an acorn with leaves still attached. The leaves stuck out of the hole as a reminder to the bird where his hidden treasure was buried. :)
The woodpeckers weren’t the only birds that I enjoyed watching. Blue Jays were all over the place. This one landed on a stump right in front of me to show off his mouthful. Apparently the really good acorn-gatherers fly with two acorns in their beaks!
The other bird of note at Bok Tower right now is a Rufous Hummingbird. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are regulars at Bok Tower during the winter, but the Rufous is a little rare. If you look at the range maps for the Rufous Hummingbird at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the typical range is the west coast of the United States. But the birds are beginning to have more of a presence on the East Coast as well, and they show up in pockets all over the country. I would guess that this is the same Rufous Hummingbird that I saw last year and the year before. She certainly defends the same territory with the same energetic little bursts of flight!
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What wonderful images Jess! Glad that you were able to find them!
Thanks, Deb! I’m heading back there this weekend with my dad. He can’t wait!
Terrific photographs! It’s been interesting trying to locate Red-headed Woodpecker breeding sites for the current Breeding Bird Atlas. Not nearly as numerous as 25 years ago but perhaps not as dire as has been thought.
Very nice capture of the little flying jewel!
Yeah, I’ve heard of Red-Headed Woodpeckers popping up in several places around Polk County. It’s good to hear! Where I live the habitat is all disappearing because houses are going in at a crazy rate. It’s sad.
Beautiful shots! I was there earlier that week and could not get a rufous shot for anything. They were zipping around so fast and would not sit still or stay on a flower. I sat on the bench in front of that window blind for an hour and could not get anything but blur. I want to head back there around the holidays. It was such a fun place.