Monday, March 04, 2013

Pileated Woodpecker

During the last few years, I have done a lot of different programs and talks on birds. Everytime the Pileated Woodpecker entered a program, I used J.J.Audubon's painting of the bird. I did not have any photographs of the Pileated Woodpecker.

I see this bird several times every year, but those sightings are usually very brief ones as the bird flies across the road, or an opening in the forest. Fifteen years ago, I sat on a wooded slope in central Pennsylvania and watched one excavating a hole. Wood chips flew everywhere. I was not a photographer then.

Last year I had an excellent opportunity to photograph the Pileated Woodpecker - it was close to a trail I was on, working a fallen tree close to the ground. But I had violated Rule #1 for getting good photographs. I did not have my camera with me!

Early Sunday morning I carried my camera and binoculars from my apartment in a high rise building in Philadelphia down to the parking lot. Part of the parking lot is lined with large trees which screen a major city road. The road runs parallel to the Wissahickon Park - a significantly large piece of nature in the middle of the city.

I heard tap-tapping. I glanced casually, saw some red, and thought, Red-bellied Woodpecker. But I looked closer. A Pileated Woodpecker was busily pounding on a dead branch.

Then - grab the camera. Turn it on. Shoot off the documenting shots. Then work around for better views, better lighting, new angles. For about 15 minutes I photographed the bird as it worked along dead limbs.

Pileated Woodpecker - female, with black stripe on chin

Digging out the good stuff

I was so busy photographing the bird, that I almost missed the fact that there was a second bird present ...

Pileated Woodpecker - female, with just the tail of a second bird on the right
But he was cooperative, and stayed around to work the tree with his mate ...

Pileated Woodpecker - male
Then for a couple of minutes, the pair worked the same limb, rapidly tapping in tandem. It was eerie, almost as though one were the mirror of the other.

When the pair finally flew, I continued to Heinz NWR for a morning of birding - a morning that was good in the very first few minutes!


Anonymous said...

How glorious. It's amazing when we get more than a glimpse, but have the opportunity to really watch.

Anonymous said...

How cool, love your series of pictures. I also have a family of pileated woodpeckers living near our home.

thanks for sharing, I love your site.

check out my picture.
Pileated Woodpeckers


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