Birds of Reston, Virginia: White-breasted nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)

blue-gray White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) on a tree trunk in reston Virginia

Nuthatches are not woodpeckers, though they eat a similar diet of insects gathered from tree bark, along with nuts and seeds. They also hop around a lot like woodpeckers—probably more so. This inspired me to invent a game called “Find the White-Breasted Nuthatch.” Read the post to play.

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Birds of Reston: Yellow-shafted northern flicker (Colaptes auratus)

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) at bird feeder in Reston Virginia

The northern flicker doesn’t have “woodpecker” in its name, but it is one. And what a distinctive one! Although the black-and-white stripes on its tail are reminiscent of other woodpeckers’ black-and-white checks, it’s polka-dotted breast is what makes it stand out among birds. Quite fashion-forward. Read more …

Birds of Reston, Virginia: Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius) and friends

yellow-bellied sapsucker Sphyrapicus varius on tree trunk in reston virginia

It was well below freezing today. I went outside with every bit of skin covered except for the area right around my eyes, since seeing is useful. But it was still a good day for birding. I saw three new species for me—a yellow-bellied sapsucker, a Carolina wren, and a northern mockingbird—and also a pileated woodpecker, which I’ve seen before but never at home. Read more …