Today my walk was stopped and delayed by 30 minutes while I came upon a very rare photo op of pileated woodpeckers on our farm.
The sighting of a pileated woodpecker has been a rare occurrence for me over the years, mainly seen in flight through the woods, but today a wonderful pileated actually seemed to pose.
The bird essentially alerted me to his presence by his distinct call. That call was coming from the top of a dead limb on what I have dubbed ‘the woodpecker tree’ due to previous and frequent observations of red-bellied woodpeckers over many years there. Recently, I have seen several pileated woodpeckers in that general area, but mostly in flight as in flying away from me.
This morning was different.
At first, I was not sure of the identification of the woodpecker because I was still too far away to make positive recognition. I walked closer to the tree being careful to take slow, deliberate steps. The dogs, Snowball and Buddy, shadowed at my heals. They have learned, for the most part, to follow my lead. Slowing my gait is an indication that I am interested in something and that they need to be quiet and still.
I took a few pictures before moving steps closer. When I got to a point where I felt I was still out of the danger zone for the woodpecker to take flight, I stopped. Soon, a second and a third pileated joined the first in that dead snag. Then, a flicker flew into the mix.
|notice the flicker at the bottom of the photo -|
much smaller than the pileated yet a large
bird compared to my most common birds
I consider the flicker to be a large bird, averaging 12”, but his size was surely diminished by the size of those pileated woodpeckers which are closer to19”. Having a tangible comparison really puts the size of the birds in perspective.
I took over 50 photos knowing that I would be lucky to come away with a small percentage of ‘good’ pictures. I was right.
I love watching the pileated woodpeckers as they smoothly dip and rise in flight.
But, better yet, is the opportunity I was wishing for all summer… to watch the pileated woodpeckers up close and personal
from the ‘good seats’.