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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pileated Woodpecker


Was somebody building something nearby? Surely not.  It sounded too close. I stood very still and searched, slowly closing in on the sound, one step at a time.  I had an idea what I would find if I advanced carefully. Then there it was.  A pileated woodpecker was turning the dead trunk of a poplar tree into mulch.  Pieces were sent flying in all directions as the woodpecker searched for bugs.  Every now and then a delectible morsel was found allowing the bird to pause and eat but only for a moment then it was back to work. 
The drumming rang out through the trees as the hammering continued as the woodpecker lived up to its name riddling the old trunk with holes returning the wood to the earth that had nurtured it for so many years. 

The bird contorted its neck, twisting it to reach the long thin bill deep into holes to extract bugs We all know the pileated as the cartoon character Woody Woodpecker but this bird was serious about its work, seemingly oblivious to the human slowly closing in.

I was glad that the trunk had been left to slowly be eaten by the bugs, then birds.  This small bit of conservation gave me a nice "Wow" moment.  I took some photographs to share here and to prompt my memory of the meal.  Not wanting to disturb the bird too much I left it there using its powerful head to propel its long thin bill into the bug-ridden wood.

As I returned to the house, a red-tail hawk was flying out of the front yard, attempting her own meal a bit higher up on the food chain.  She was beautiful, her deep umber tail feathers making a fine show as she flew to a tree.  She perched there, turned around then watched.  I was sure she was hurtling unkind thoughts at me for interrupting her meal. There she sat as she watched the bird feeder a few moments moments more then flew off to easier pickings.

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