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Louisa and I were driving on a dirt road in high desert a couple of weeks ago when I saw a Gila Woodpecker sitting on a fencepost. The bird seemed to be engrossed with the post, pecking at it. Normally, Gilas are pretty skittish birds. They usually flee when I approach them and it’s hard to get a closeup view of one of them. However, this bird didn’t seem to care about our presence. I parked quite close to the fencepost and made some images while the bird continued to play around with the top of the post.
After a few moments I realized that I was observing and photographing a fledgling bird. The youngster was exploring the top of the post with its tongue and beak, acting very much like any child would when confronted with a new experience.
At this stage of its life the young woodpecker, although out of its nest cavity, was still dependent on its parents. In this second image I photographed it calling, evidently demanding that an adult bird attend to it and feed it.
Young Gila Woodpeckers have plumage that is very similar to that of adult females of this species. As they mature, the males will display red caps on their heads whereas the females will retain all-brown plumage.
Images made with a Canon 5Div, 400mm f4 DO II lens+1.4x telextender, M setting (auto ISO), ISO 1250, f5.6 @ 1/2000.