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.