Friday, January 28, 2011

Downy Woodpecker in Watercolor

My second painting for the month of January is a little downy woodpecker painted in watercolor and gouache. This one would be a male which you can tell by the small spot of red on the back of his head. In doing my research I discovered that the reason they are called "downy" woodpeckers comes from the fact that they have a small tuft of feathers at the base of their bill. Hairy woodpeckers look very similar except they are larger with a longer bill. They also have a tuft of feathers at the base of their bill, but they get to be "hairy" instead of just "downy". Kind of makes you wonder how they come up with some of these names, doesn't it?

Anyway, I saw several of these little woodpeckers flitting around from tree to tree and they were calling. I actually heard them first and since it was an unfamiliar sound I listened closely to locate the bird making the noise. I was surprised that it was coming from the downy as I have never heard them make any noise before except the familiar "tap-tap-tap" as they work along a tree looking for insects. I was also surprised by the fact that I saw three of them working on tree trunks near each other. I've normally only seen one at a time and these seemed to be following each other around. I recall reading that downy woodpeckers may mate for life and locate their mates by tapping on the trees as early as January so perhaps that's what I was witnessing and maybe it's an indicator that spring isn't too far off!

I created this painting for a special lady in my life.... my mother in law. She has been a great supporter of my art and also shares my love of nature, gardening and birds. My husband shared with me that she always liked seeing the little woodpeckers come to their feeders when they were kids and because her birthday is coming up this was a no-brainer.

Though the original is gone, if you love downy woodpeckers an art card/ACEO is available through my Etsy store at Take a look and see what else is new!