Gila Woodpecker is wa-a-ay out of range

meldy_nva(z6b VA)July 13, 2011

No doubt about it; DH and I had many minutes to study the details. She spent a lot of time at the goldfinch feeder - once she figured out how to balance on the perches. She had watched the Downy at the feeder [who always uses the bottom left perch and sits neatly while nibbling] and the Gila's first attempts to balance on one perch were hilarious; she now uses two perchs in a sideways spraddle-legged grip.

Note that her official home is in very southern Arizona into Mexico. That's a long way for her to fly back.

Here is a link that might be useful: Gila Woodpecker

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lilod(NoCal/8)

That bird sure is far away from home, wonder how it got there?
Possibly a stowaway in an RV or a commercial long distance truck? She apparently is making the best of it.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 1:58PM
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anneliese_32(6)

Could she have escaped from an aviary in a zoo?

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 2:22PM
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calliope(6)

I am not doubting it couldn't be, stranger things do happen, like Old World birds being carried across oceans in air currents. However, I can think of two different members of the woodpecker family indiginous to the eastern U.S. one could possible say look similar. One is the Northern flicker and another an immature yellow-bellied sapsucker. If it is a Gila.........you have an event the local media needs to document and your local universities as well. It would be so rare to attract bird-watchers to camp out and hope to see it.

I have been gathering feeder statistics for about ten years now....have had a few rare bird reports, but nothing like this. It needs to be documented stat......grab a camera.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 6:08PM
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lindac(Iowa Z 5/4)

I agree with Calliope.....but am also remembering those terrific wind we had here Sunday...maybe could have brought a small bird along?
But it really looks sapsucker-ish, they could be easily confused..
Linda C

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 6:45PM
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calliope(6)

We have flickers on our property but they keep a low profile back toward wood and pasture edge, and usually ground feed. This year, for the first time, they came up to the feeders near the kitchen windows and perched. Yes, clumsy in that millieu.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 7:35PM
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rob333

They were at their "summer home", staying cool.

:)

    Bookmark   July 14, 2011 at 9:20AM
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calliope(6)

LOL Rob. A really neat place to see what species show up where and displayed with maps and filters is Project Feeder Watch website, who are affiliated with the Cornell University Department of Ornithology. They also have pages dedicated to rare sightings and pictures feeder watchers have submitted. I always slip a plug in for them when I can because they've been making so much progress in studies about our bird populations and what impacts them it's a really important project and depends on the massive amount of data submitted from people on a voluntary basis. I can see no other way that kind of data would be obtainable, nor even imagine the costs involved. I highly recommend anyone interested in birds at all to scope them out and consider participation. You don't have to be any sort of an expert.....that comes with time and I promise you you'll learn about bird identification in the most effortless way if you've ever had that desire.

It certainly makes winters more interesting here.

Here is a link that might be useful: Project Feeder Watch

    Bookmark   July 14, 2011 at 10:56AM
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rob333

Suzy,
I totally agree. It doesn't take an expert to watch birds. I love to see the season changes reflected in my bird populations. Some I never get to see, e.g. tufted titmouse, except in winter. I never see goldfinches except in summer? I may just not be good enough at spotting all of the birds all of the time, but they sure are enjoyable critters to behold. Acutally, I am really struck at the similarities in gardeners. Many love to photograph, many love to cook, many love to combine these things. And many love butterflies and birds. I'm in all these camps.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2011 at 11:35AM
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lindac(Iowa Z 5/4)

We get a "strange" period here during fall migration time....when all sorts of non native birds show up at our feeders. things like yellow throats and other warblers and hummers that are not ruby throated. You have to keep the feeders filled and a sharp eye out for them.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2011 at 1:09PM
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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

The color tones, stripe sizes/location, and general shape of the yellow-bellied sapsucker are actually rather different from the GW; the YBS stops by occasionally so I'm familiar with her/him. There really isn't any resemblance in size or color to any of the other woodpeckers. I spent two days searching every book and every site I could find, because I was so sure that this *couldn't* be a Gila. However, my Gila matches the pics to perfection, she just isn't in the normal locale.

After watching her for almost two weeks, I haven't seen her since the "cool" weather began. The heat is due back next week, so I may find out if she is still in the area.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 1:55PM
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calliope(6)

Given you've checked pictures of immature YBS, since they're present at thist time of year and haven't gone through their molt yet, and determined that is out of the question...you've got a real find. If you have a digital you should really document it. It's a really unusual occurence. It should also be (have been) reported to at least your Natural Resources department, or a university to official documentation. Here's a link to one pic of an immature. Aside from the light streaking on the head, they really do resemble the Gila. Hope it comes back. It would be too cool. And no.......I shouldn't think it were an escape from a zoo and certainly not a private entity. It's unlawful for individuals to cage a bird like that without a permit.

Here is a link that might be useful: immature YBS

    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 2:30PM
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rob333

Seems like I talked about this little bird already, but I can't seem to find where. Can anyone identify it? It was likely a fledgling considering where, how, and I saw it May 19th.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 2:59PM
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calliope(6)

It's a warbler. I think prolly a magnolia warbler. I get yellow rumped warblers and birders call them butter butts because of the big splash of yellow over the rump. I'd suggest going to our birding forum here and running it by them. They'll nail it quickly.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 4:04PM
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rob333

Warbler was what I had it narrowed down to, but what kind? I couldn't figure that out. At least, I feel validated!

Thank you lady musician, former care giver, gardner, canner, pasta maker, animal lover you!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 4:45PM
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rob333

P.S. looks like you nailed it. Magnolia Warbler

Here is a link that might be useful: Magnolia Warbler

    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 4:48PM
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pamven(z5neastindiana)

Robin,the reason you only see goldfinches in the summer is they lose their color in the fall and look like all the other little brownish birds.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2011 at 9:23PM
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rob333

Thanks Pam, I learn something new every day!

I generally know at which birds I am looking, even male/female versions, but not delved incredibly deeply. I might know what cover they like so I can grow it, or have the food they might like (or try to attract it), but I haven't learned all of the cycles. Might have to get in deeper.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2011 at 8:50AM
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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

Hi Suzi, I did indeed spend a LOT of time searching pics and studying immatures ~ I began the search being sure that this was reasonably local woodpecker or flicker, and only branched out when the colors/markings were so obviously not among the usual locals. If one looks at your link of an immature SS and then immediately looks at the Gila pic I linked, the differences in color and stripes are easy to see.

'Gila' visited the finch feeder Saturday morning; I haven't seen it since. Such a wide portion of the US is presently in a heat wave that she may feel safe to travel back west.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 1:46PM
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calliope(6)

I'm not disputing you, Meldy.......it does indeed happen and as I said, sometimes birds are sighted not only out of range for a state, but a country and occasionally even a continent. I was just really trying to urge you to document it because those sightings say things to ornithologists and records are kept and can be valuable tools for translating things like irruptions, food scarcity, climate issues. I turn in rare bird sightings (only something like a gila is way out of my league, lol) and I know the hoops I have to jump through to have them officially counted. I had one sighting, and the ornithologist even agreed with me when I submitted a log, discription and drawings, but when push comes to shove though he allowed me to use it in the official count, I was disallowed to have it kept as a rare sighting. I didn't care, I'd rather be accurate than have the notariety, but a simple digital pic would have nailed if for me and with the technology now and their popularity......I am encouraging anyone who would happen to see something so rare, to document with a picture.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2011 at 5:42PM
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daine.scott

Is it an attempt by local government official to bring such birds into a new habitat? It could probably be the answer to the mysterious sighting of Gila Woodpecker at your place. Kindly click some snaps and do share with us.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 7:06AM
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rosesstink

Meldy - I too encourage you to report your bird finding. Your local Audubon Society chapter can help with the reporting. It may turn out that it was not a Gila but reporting it won't hurt. As Calliope said, pics are great documentation. But your descriptions are also helpful to the people in your state who track rare birds so it's worth contacting them.

From daine.scott: "Is it an attempt by local government official to bring such birds into a new habitat?" Smartass.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 10:21PM
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lindac(Iowa Z 5/4)

And it may turn out that others in your area have seen a Gila...same one or another.
Do report it.
Linda C

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 11:58PM
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