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Downy Woodpecker with Frog

Picoides pubescens


Red nape patch, short pointed black bill, black shoulders, spotted outermost tail feathers, white underparts. Just may have a frog on its back!


Wide range of habitats. Deciduous and mixed deciduous and coniferous woodlands.


The Downy pictured has a passenger on its back. I didn't realize this when I was taking the pictures, but there is a Pacific Tree Frog riding on the back of this Downy Woodpecker. I was showing the shots on my monitor to my daughter and she spotted the bump on the bird's back and asked what that was. While shooting these shots, the bird did not act oddly nor did the added weight of the frog seem to affect its ability to fly. I was in my vehicle and the bird was right off the edge of the road on some type of foliage. It would fly back and forth between the foliage and this nearby tree trunk while I was shooting. I doubt I will see this phenomenon again! I first posted this series on Flickr in 2009. It has since received over 2270 views. If you are interested in reading the various comments it received, please visit my Flickr posting at:

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Arya 6 years ago

Hi Dennis, just started a woodpecker mission and would love for you to add this one!

Dennis Davenport
Dennis Davenport 8 years ago

Thank you all for the comments!

The MnMs
The MnMs 8 years ago

Odd! never seen something like this before. Nice sighting!

Wild Things
Wild Things 8 years ago

Lovely spotting Dennis, I guess you got the frog as a package deal. Really good work.

KarenL 8 years ago

I've just been reading all the comments. It really is an amazing series of photos!

Dennis Davenport
Dennis Davenport 8 years ago

Some say the frog may have been trying to keep warm, others say it accidentally landed there and has sticky skin, making it hard to jump off. Check the Flickr link I gave to see more comments from folks. Thanks!

KarenL 8 years ago

How bizarre! Has anyone come up with a suggestion for the frog's behavior?

Dennis Davenport
Spotted by
Dennis Davenport

Washington, USA

Spotted on Dec 23, 2009
Submitted on Sep 26, 2011

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