If you read last week’s blog post, you’ll know that I sleep in on Sundays.
On Saturdays, I get up early and hit the farmer’s market. But Sundays are for rolling over one more time and getting an extra hour or so.
Not sure what happened this week, but I didn’t wake up til 9 on Saturday which worked out ok because I still got to market in time to get the goods.
I was up fairly late Saturday night binge-watching a Netflix series but I woke up just as it was getting light out on Sunday morning. As I lay there debating whether to pull the covers over my head, I realized that there was quite a racket coming from outside my window.
Generally I love all birds and waking up to the song of birds is a good thing. But there are a few exceptions, one being the red-winged blackbird. A sleek, jet-black bird with bright red and yellow wing feathers (adult males). Singularly beautiful but the problem is they cluster in large flocks and they can eat through $60 of good bird seed in about an hour. They are quite noisy. I call them chicken-birds because they make a clucking sound in addition to a squeaky sound that is similar to the way your rusty childhood swing with the metal chains sounded grinding against its suspension hooks.
They were so loud this morning that I knew the normal flock of 50 or so must be double today. I couldn’t stand the thought of them churning through my black-oil sunflower seed on this frosty morning and stealing breakfast from all the little song birds. So I got up, opened my bedroom window and startled the cloud of black back up into the trees. One good loud hand clap is all it takes.
I raised my eyes up higher to see if they had just moved temporarily to higher ground, and that’s when I saw him:
Mr. Pileated Woodpecker.
Such a treat. You often hear these big beauties before you see them. If you are a novice birder, then you may notice a bird that comes into your direct line of sight. But if you simply allow the sounds of birds into your awareness, you’ll triple your view.
Anyone can recognize the sound of a woodpecker. Next time you hear it, pay attention. We have lots of different woodpeckers in this area – the easily recognized red-headed woodpecker and the similarly sized red-bellied woodpecker are common. Look a little more closely and you’ll find two other woodpeckers – much smaller and super cute – the hairy and the downy woodpeckers.
But when you hear a woodpecker hammering against a tree, take just a second to notice – is that really darn loud? Like, man that must be a big one? There is a distinct difference in the way a pileated woodpecker’s hammering echoes for much longer distances than your red headed friend.
So thanks to the noisy flock of chicken-birds, I got a few great shots of Mr. Pileated this morning as the sun was coming up. And a nice little video that will make you appreciate being on top of the food chain. Imagine if you had to do this to get your breakfast!
This also made me smile because my lawn people recently told me “that big tree behind your fence is really dead” (really? lol) and “you should have that taken down”, to which I just laughed. Unless a dead tree is truly threatening your home, leave it alone. That enormous dead tree provides not only delicious grubs and carpenter ants for our woodpeckers to eat, it also provides them a place to carve out their nests. No dead trees? No woodpeckers.
There are no ordinary moments in life. If you pay attention, you’ll be rewarded.
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