Friday, November 22, 2013

Red-bellied Woodpecker in South Porcupine

This morning, I was submitting a late eBird report for the 18th of November; American Goldfinch, Chickadee, Mourning Dove, Blue Jay, Gray Jay, Dark-eyed Junco... As I pressed on the submit button, I couldn't help feeling a little disappointed: with the arrival of winter, the sighting lists are getting shorter.  So I was thinking "I'm just starting this bird discovery adventure thing and I don't want to slow down now… spring is so far away. From now on, the daylight starts disappearing at 4h30pm, the snow is pilling and the freezing temperatures are turning our fingers blue...  and there's going to be less opportunities to see new bird species…" 

And then, I turned around and everything changed.

Red-bellied Woodpecker / Pic à ventre roux
South Porcupine, ON  (22 Nov 2013)

Right there in front of me, in our big spruce tree.  At first, I thought my mind was playing tricks on me (because I was just thinking about putting my life list away until spring... and things don't usually happen that way in real life!) A Red-bellied Woodpecker in South Porcupine on a snowy cold November morning.  Luckily, my camera was right next to me. I watched this beautiful bird for as long as I could.  It stayed there for about 10 short minutes.

I know this bird is common in the South of the province but not here in the North! ... I was really excited about this find for 3 reasons:   a) I never thought I would see a Red-bellied Woodpecker here.  b) I get very excited every time I see a bird…any bird.  c) I get even more excited when I see a bird for the first time.

Red-bellied Woodpecker / Pic à ventre roux
South Porcupine (22 Nov 2013)

The Red-bellied Woodpecker's normal range is the South East of North-America (Southern Ontario and Eastern United-States.)  According to the data on eBird, there's only one record of this bird in the district of Cochrane (in Moosonee, 1983).  Other than that, there's a Red-bellied Woodpecker that was sighted in Englehart, (Timiskaming district) from March to May of 2012.  It certainly doesn't mean that Red-bellied Woodpeckers were not spotted here... it just means that they weren't reported.  What an unforgettable sight.

So if you live in the area, hang your suet and keep an eye out for this striking bird.