Female Red-bellied Woodpecker ---    

The tree in our front yard that I call “Woodpecker Tree No. 1” is probably one of the ugliest trees we have. But it is of big importance for our woodpeckers, if they want to approach the suet feeder that is not far from it. Before they enter the feeder, most of the time they land on this tree and hop down step by step, making sure no predator is nearby. The tree is also used to make clear who is next in line. There is a hierarchy between the different species and ages of the birds. The Red-bellied Woodpecker is able to scare the Northern Flickers away, even if some of them are larger. The much smaller Downy Woodpeckers always leave and wait patiently when one of the larger birds, like the Northern Flickers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, or Hairy Woodpeckers come to the tree.

Downy Woodpecker

Both photos are from last weekend after we had some fresh snow on the ground. This helps a lot with light quantity. In addition I use flash fill, not as my main light source but to make the colors more vibrant and to improve mostly the quality of the light. I’m still testing a new flash extender that made it into my bag a few weeks ago and I will write about this piece of gear here in the blog shortly. “Woodpecker Tree No. 1” has been always a good place to make tests with new gear. I know the location and most importantly can compare my results with older photos that were shot under similar circumstances.