April 17, 2013

Knock, Knock...

Yesterday while I was finishing up the morning feeding I heard an unfamiliar noise. I stopped and waited, hoping I'd hear it again so I could identify it. After a minute or two I saw a red head bob over the crest of the hill. I thought it was a rooster's comb, but my chickens aren't loose, and this bird's neck was the wrong color to be one of mine, and not really the right shape to be a chicken. As it came into full view I realized it was a pileated woodpecker.

This is the bird that inspired "Woody Woodpecker" if you're old enough to remember him. Pileated woodpeckers are about fifteen inches tall and have a very distinctive red crest.

I watched as it hopped over to a couple of large branches that had fallen from a tree in a windstorm. It began chipping away at the wood with its long beak, wood chips flying in every direction. I stood for the longest time, watching as he worked on that log. Of course I didn't have my camera with me. Eventually he flew away.

Stock photo from Morgue File

I went back later and took a photo of the log. It's amazing how much damage he did to it in a short time.

This woodpecker and his mate have lived at Oak Hill as long or longer than we have. I've watched them hammer away at several dead trees that have since fallen to the ground. I've heard their distinctive call. They are like old friends. It was so neat to see this one so close up this morning.


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