Last week, walking in the forest, I heard what at first sounded like frogs. I listened more carefully, and realized it was a woodpecker of some kind. I’m a birder of more enthusiasm than expertise, and I usually need my bird-book and binocs to identify a bird. I didn’t have those (and besides, I couldn’t see the bird). What I did have was my camera, so I took a video/ audio recording of tall trees with bird noises. Then I started sending the video to people who knew more than I did.
[Edited to Add: Someone published it on Facebook, and if you want to listen, here’s the LINK .]
A friend of a friend came up with an answer: It’s a Hairy Woodpecker. They like forests with large trees, apparently, which we still have here. (If you click on the underlined link, it takes you to a website where they have an audio of the bird sound.)
Okay, I just got a different answer from another birder, Harry Fuller, who thinks it’s a Downy Woodpecker, possibly with a background of House Finches.
“The woodpecker is almost definitely a Downy from the brief, rapid drumming…they nest across SF as well…Nuttall’s very rare in SF in summer, Hairy unusual and likes much denser woodlands…my wild guess on the bird song: a young, recently fledged House Finch, there’s a raspy portion after the first rapid trill…few SF birds have that in any song…it’s not the “real” House Finch song but it has the right speed and quality…none of the other possible birds sound like that: from Icterids, to Bewick’s Wren to Robins to White-crown Sparrow to California Towhee to goldfinches to warblers…I was just in Sutro Hts. over the weekend on a visit to SF and there were dozens of House Finches, about half of them new birds…suspect same is true on Mt. Sutro…most song bird males do not get their “true” song until their first breeding season and simply practice nonsense songs their first summer.”
Either way, I’m pleased. According to the USGS Bird Checklist for San Francisco Bay, the Downy Woodpecker is uncommon in all seasons, and the Hairy is an accidental visitor.
[Edited to add: There are Downies in the area – here is a link to Craig Newmark’s blog, showing a Downy at his bird-feeder. Craig lives next to the Interior Green Belt part of the forest.]
If anyone else wants to take a crack at this, email firstname.lastname@example.org and the video-clip (about 30 seconds’ worth) can be e-mailed to you.