Scientific Name: Picoides pubescens
Pictures: (click for larger images)
A Downy Woodpecker spotted eating out of the tall Pink Cedar tree in the Botanical Garden. Not the best shot, but you get the idea. Photo by Jason Finley, using Bobby Walsh's spotting scope, 3/11/05. Slightly more in focus but also more obscured.
Description: Small. 6 " in length (beak to tail), about the same size as a Sparrow. Back/wings/tail black with a big white rectangle and some spots, but no bars like th Nuttal's. Chest is SOLID white (versus Nuttal's, which has black speckles on side of chest). Head is black with some white stripes. Males have a small red spot on the top/rear of their heads. Females don't. Beak is black and short. So cute!
Commonality/Seasonality: Rare, but year-round.
Location: These guys have been spotted in the Botanical Garden and at Stone Canyon Creek. They can probably be found also in the Native Fragment, especially in the more heavily wooded parts. They tend to like to be near streams. But there's also been a report of one seen in the desert section of the Botanical Garden.
Notes: The cutest, I mean smallest of the woodpeckers. They can go after some bugs the bigger guys can't.
Since they are really small, you're most likely to find one by hearing it, or maybe seeing it flying to a tree. They peck on wood very rapidly, so it sounds like a sharp knocking at jackhammmer speeds.
This, our tiniest woodpecker, nests in willows along the Stone Canyon bed and should move into the willows that are developing in the Arroyo. It is fairly abundant. [note: Miller refers to the Willow Woodpecker, which we call the Downy Woodpecker. The commonality of Nuttal's vs. Downy has been reversed since Miller's time: the Nuttal's are now more common than the Downies.]
-Miller, Loye. "Birds of the Campus, University of California, Los Angeles," from University of California Syllabus Series, No. 300. Text by Loye Miller, illustrations by Robert C. Stebbins. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1947.