In the plant world there is Common Ragweed:
and Giant Ragweed:
In the bird world there is Lesser Yellowlegs:
and Great Yellowlegs:
In both cases, size in the difference.
In North America, the Downy Woodpecker and Hairy Woodpecker are almost identical except for size, size of bill and call.
Why weren’t they called the “Lesser Woodpecker” and the “Greater Woodpecker”?
It takes experience to be able to confidently distinguish the two in the field. I think of the downy as being sparrow-sized and the hairy as being starling-sized.
It is easy to understand why the adorable Downy Woodpecker is called that because of its soft, downy feathers.
but “Hairy”? The internet gives opposing reasons for this.
#1 from the Bangor Daily News: This woodpecker looks a little hairy due to small feathers on its legs, head and over the upper mandible.
#2 from Bird Watchers Digest: the hairy woodpecker is named for the long, hair-like white feathers on its back.
I will confess to never having noticed either characteristic.
Other birds this morning:
Species list: double-crested cormorant, great blue heron, Canada goose, mallard, red-tailed hawk, killdeer, ring-billed gull, belted kingfisher, northern flicker, hairy woodpecker, downy woodpecker, blue jay, black-capped chickadee, white-breasted nuthatch, red-breasted nuthatch, American robin, gray catbird, blue-headed vireo, palm warbler, yellow warbler, house sparrow, northern cardinal, American goldfinch, song sparrow. (24 species)
This morning’s group. It was 7 degrees at 8 am.
Again my fancy takes its flight,
And soars away on thoughtful wing,
Again my soul thrills with delight,
And this the fancied theme, I sing,
From Earthly scenes awhile, I find release,
And dwell upon the restful Plains of Peace. – Olivia Ward Bush-Banks (1869–1944)