Friday, December 25, 2009

A Pileated Woodpecker has arrived!


I think it was right after we moved here, in 1975: A Pterodactyl-size (or so it seemed at the time) woodpecker flew noisily over the property, traveling east to west, and absolutely commanding our attention. I had never seen a bird quite like it, and I didn't see one again until about 30 years later, when two fellow wedding guests and I dashed away before the vows were spoken in order to photograph a Pileated Woodpecker that had been spotted across the lawn.

And now, this winter, a Pileated visits my suet feeder every day, several times a day. I wonder when I'll get used to him; I wonder when I'll stop rushing to get my camera. It's hard to tell from the photo, but this bird is the size of a crow.

In the almost 40 years I've been feeding wild birds, more have left than have arrived. I would love to see and hear Evening Grosbeaks again. I'd love it if Rufous-Sided Towhees would come back to kick leaves around, and Bohemian Waxwings once again treated me to the experience of seeing them pass Cardinal Autumn Olive berries to one another. A migrating flock of Redpolls once landed on me simply because they saw Chickadees and Evening Grosbeaks doing the same. I haven't seen them since. I miss all these birds. They all brought life and color and their distinctive sounds to the property. When I tell people I love living close to nature, it is the birds I think of first.

But the House Wren that disappeared more than five years ago came back to sing and raise babies on my porch this past spring, and now a Pileated Woodpecker has a serious suet addition. The sheer size of him must count for something. These things give me hope.

7 comments:

mm said...

What a fantastic picture, Susan. We have very little in the way of trees by our house, and very little in the way of birds.

Now that you've attracted a pileated woodpecker, I'm sure an ivory-billed woodpecker can't be far behind.

Susan said...

Yup, next thing I could be writing how-to woodpecker articles for Audubon....

crystal said...

Great photo.

I leave out bird seed but I don't know very many of the birds who drop by except the jays and the doves. I can hear woodpeckers in the yard though - lots of dead trees here.

Indigo Bunting said...

This photo and the one on your Facebook page are astounding...I am both in awe of your skills and thrilled for you that you have such beautiful neighbors. Glad that you are posting again, too. Now, if only I could get my act together...

Susan said...

I love that sound, Crystal.

Your act has always been together, IB. BTW, I heard from your friend Tim. (Not the Tim.) He liked the woodpecker pictures, too.

Indigo Bunting said...

Hmmmm. Friend Tim vs. the Tim. I'm trying to figure out how that could have happened, if I have the right Tim.

Eulalia (Lali) said...

A wonderful omen for the coming decade, surely.