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Tag Archives: pileated woodpecker

The girls and I enjoyed a short, slow walk in the woods last week. Luna has missed her outings and was so happy to be on a trail again. She sniffed all the sniffs, saw all the sights and drank deeply from the river. Her attitude is good despite injury and old age.

I have found that birds are easier to view when I am in my kayak than when I am walking around. The birds don’t perceive a person in a boat to be as big a threat as a person on the ground. The kayak provides a good point of view for some of the smaller songbirds which often elude me, leaving me to guess their species by a call or a song. I struggle with birding by ear, especially the warblers and Empidonax flycatchers. Except Willow Flycatchers. They have a distinctive call that sounds like ‘fitzbuuu’.

The Pileated Woodpecker was seen from our campsite. The Yellow-rumped Warbler darted back and forth catching bugs above the water. There were baby Song Sparrows along the lakeshore and adults singing and calling from the shrubs above. Red-winged Blackbirds NEVER perch still for me to get a photo. Never. An Empidonax flycatcher waited for insects in between its frequent ‘fitzbuuu’ calls. See the crack in that snag? In the next photo, look carefully for the departing Tree Swallow. They are fast. I waited and waited to get that one image. I have several of the bird’s tail feathers flying away. The Yellow Warbler was lovely in the green alder leaves. Coots were elusive in the marshy area of the lake, quickly gathering their bright orange chicks and moving them into cover. An Eastern Kingbird gracefully hurled a pellet while I was making its photo. I came across the Killdeer family while on a drive about.

Of course, there were loons. And another highlight, not photographed, was a Sora with babies!

Yesterday, while eating breakfast, a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers landed on the snag in front of the house! What a delight to see these beautiful birds reasonably close. The female didn’t stick around for photos.

Spring brings new growth and birds on the wing. We continue to work on restoration with new plantings and weed pulling. It could be a full-time job. But we’re not like that. We need to spend time enjoying the natural world around us.

November is not really a great month for birding but I did manage to see a few interesting birds and get some photos of them. Most of these were taken from our dining room looking out at our feeder snags.

Yesterday I noticed some Mourning Dove feathers on the ground. It was probably nabbed by the Sharp-shinned Hawk. She’s been a regular visitor for several weeks but this is the first evidence I’ve found indicating she is successfully hunting here. Mostly she cranes her neck and watches for some small unsuspecting bird to return to the feeder. I think she’s a female because she is rather large for a sharpie. The males are smaller.

The Northern Pygmy Owl was here before the snow fell. I saw it catch a vole and I wonder where it is hunting now. Voles are hard to find with the thick snow cover.

The female Northern Harrier was seen on a walk at Big Valley. She was on the ground unnoticed by us and lifted into the air when the dogs got too close. We called them back and she returned to the same spot. I imagine she had a meal – maybe a vole or mouse. We walked on and left her alone. A male Northern Harrier would have been silvery gray.

Northern Shrikes are winter birds here. They nest farther north, in Canada. They also eat small birds, reptiles and mammals in addition to insects. This one made a lunge at a dove, a much larger bird, with no luck when I saw it.

There have been lots of Northern Flickers around recently. They particularly like the suet feeders. They share them with Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers and also Black-billed Magpies.

The Pileated Woodpeckers have had a heyday with our burned trees. Insects invaded the trees almost immediately after the fire and then the Pileated’s began to break off great chunks of blackened bark in search of the larvae. They continue to return day after day so they must be successful. The little woodpeckers are also hard at those dead trees.

The pair of Bald Eagles were on a well-used snag above Big Twin Lake. In the summer I often see an Osprey there.

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