Saturday, December 27, 2008

Big visitor at the Aerie

This morning the winds were blowing about the Aerie and the birds were still visiting the feeders, The Black-capped Chickadees in particular, were coming in in droves. Then we heard the distinctive cackling call of a Pileated Woodpecker a short distance down the hill. (Think Woody Woodpecker. Woody was modeled on either the Pileated or the Ivory Bill. Both birds are about the size of a crow.)

Terry got all excited when she saw one alight in a pine tree on the edge of the yard. Just as I got it in sight, it flew down the driveway ad landed at the very tippy-top of the sumac that is along one side. It was pecking at the sumac fruit at the very top of the plant as it swayed to and fro in the wind. As I looked, a second Pileated joined the first and it became obvious that we had a male and female on the sumac.

I grabbed my camera, put on the zoom lens and got out on the deck to take some pictures. It wasn't easy! With the branches of the sumac swaying as much as 18 inches back and forth, and being mere spindles against a backdrop of a dark pine, trying to focus on the birds was tough. The female flew off as soon as I turned the corner of the house. The male stayed on and I snapped half a dozen pictures. Only one was remotely in focus.

Pileated Woodpecker

There's plenty of dead wood in the forest above the Aerie for these big, chisel-beaked birds. We hear them frequently. We see them much less.


Anonymous said...

That's cool! Some birds have the most beautiful plumage.

Richard said...

I haven't seen any Pileated yet this winter. We normally have a couple around here but don't see them very often. (Camera Tip: Set your camera on speed setting and crank up the speed to about 800. That may help on windy days.)

gregor said...

Never see one around these parts. The only woodpeckers I see here are of the spotted sort, that hang on the eves of the house and peck loud enough to wake me up in the mornings. I don't know why they do that, there's no evidence of insects in the wood, or maybe they know something I don't?

Shelley said...

COngrats on getting a photo of this very shy woodpecker!!

joated said...

RT--It's also the biggest woodpecker in the woods. I've had one fly down the logging trail heading right toward me at head height. I went left hand he went right.

Richard--One of these days I'll get around to reading the manual.

Gregor--Woodpeckers will hammer on telephone poles and even metal roofs when they want to let others to know what their territories are. They're not always looking for food.

Shellmo--Shy? They seem to be all over this area. Or maybe we just have one mated pair that lives in our little patch of woods.