It’s call sounds to me like a quick pik followed by a high-pitched whinny. In Baja Sur there’s no other sound like it. When Debbie and I are out birding, listening can be as important as watching but nobody calls the sport “bird listening”. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, watching birds (“birding”) is the most popular sport in the United States, with more than 51 million participants ranging from backyard enthusiasts to renowned scientists.
What a great day. The wind is calm, sky is clear but not too many birds to be seen. We’re up a dry canyon and so far have seen a few Lesser Goldfinches and Lark Sparrows. There’s a few soaring birds above and the moon is watching us.
Birding isn’t only about birds. This sport can serve as an introduction to the things that are going on all around us. Birding slows us down enough to give us a chance to see things. Things that we may not notice if we don’t pay attention.
We hear something. Debbie and I glance knowingly at each other for a brief second and smile. We hear a Ladderback declaring it’s territory up a side finger of the canyon. These birds are hard to photograph. They spend a lot of time feeding in the cooler shadows of cardons and trees where they pick out grubs, termites, ants and even some desert fruits. The following shot was taken with the aid of a flash. Sometimes we have to follow the sound of the bird wood-pecking to get a look at it.
Debbie is one to never give up on an opportunity for a good photograph. While I was off chasing an American Kestrel last week, she was digging through some brush trying to find the source of the sounds of a well-hidden woodpecker. She was rewarded by taking this beautiful photo of an immature Ladder-backed Woodpecker.