Just when I thought I’d seen it all

I thought I had probably seen all the varieties of interesting birds that I would see here in our woods. After all, in addition to the smaller more common species, I had seen a red-tailed hawk, Cooper’s Hawk, Great Horned Owl, Wood Ducks, and a Great Blue Heron. What more could I hope to see?

And then there was a flash of red in the trees and a “Tat, tat, tat, tat.” Woody Woodpecker, a pileated woodpecker, was paying us visits.

Unfortunately, unlike the owl, hawks, ducks, and heron, the pileated woodpecker was not content to calmly perch or stand for his photograph. He was too busy moving from tree to tree, climbing up trees, and looking around. His jackhammer head was in constant motion.

I determined to try to get a photo anyway. I really wanted one for my “Birds” page. So I grabbed my Nikon with its 300mm lens and went out on the deck in my pjs, robe, and slippers and shot away trying to catch a photograph from a distance, through tree branches.

I thought that this might be the best I could do.

Or this.

Here’s where my patience paid off. After five or ten minutes of this, perhaps even longer, Woody flew closer.

I got lucky.

And I see now that Woody may actually be Wanda.

36 thoughts on “Just when I thought I’d seen it all”

    1. That, dear friend, is the question of the day apparently. The male has a red mark on its face, but the female does not. I’m not completely sure because in the second-to-last picture I kind of see a red spot, but in the more clear, last shot, the stripes all look completely black. Maybe is he or she comes back I can get to the bottom of it.

  1. You got one really great shot, Christine! All of them are good photos. How can you tell it is Wanda rather than Woody? That’s interesting and cool. Did you get to see this bird fly? The wing span is amazing.

    My husband Bill was a birdwatcher. I joined him in his hikes, and one day we first heard the jackhammer and then saw the pileated woodpecker. I don’t know if it was Wanda or Woody. I’ve never seen another since, and that was about 18 years ago. We saw this magnificent bird in the Ocala National Forest. We watched it fly from tree to tree until it disappeared in the forest.

    1. I answered your gender question above. I did see it flying around. That may be how we first noticed it. I’ve only seen one once or twice before at our last house. Always a thrill.

  2. Oh my. What a COOL, comical, awesome bird. I LOVE that last shot, of the sun making her red hair grow into a flame. So beautiful! Patience is the key with any woodpecker, I’ve come to discover. For the first time in five years, I got a photo of a Gila woodpecker as well. Way to go!

  3. Your patience paid off big time! I have only seen these once, a pair of them, when on a walk–without the camera! Great shots, Christine.

    1. Wood peckers are amazing. We have the red-bellied, and downy ones here at our feeders in the winter, but this is the first time we’ve seen the pileated.

  4. We have them around here, too, but they have started to put holes in the siding of our house, Just imagine the sound in the wall of the house as that very large beak hammers away. I haven’t tried to get a photo of one of them yet. I keep trying to shoo them away!

    1. Oh no. I guess they at least warn you that they are about to destroy your home. I sure hope that doesn’t happen here. Hopefully they will be satisfied with all the dead trees in the woods.

  5. I am sooooo jealous. I’ve only seen one of these ever and it was in the U.P. They are gorgeous but very skittish.


    P.S. Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

    1. I’d only seen one once or twice before, myself. One was here a few days or week earlier and I wasn’t able to get a photograph. So glad I got one this time.

  6. Hi Christine .. those photos are wonderful – and your patience definitely paid off … love the pictures .. nature is just amazing … cheers Hilary

    1. Well, I’m not entirely sure, Marty. The reference I read showed the male with a red mark along one of the black stripes. I think I can kind of see a bit of red on the next-to-last photo, but the final photo appears to be all black to me. What do you think?

  7. Stunning!

    The closest I’ve been to one was about four feet. He’d banged into my parents’ front window and was somewhat senseless, sitting on the porch. I sat nearby to keep the cats away if they turned up. After a few minutes, he was okay again, and flew off.

  8. How wonderful that you have seen one as I don’t think there are many of them. That said, we have different kinds of them here and one tried one year to make a home in the side of my house. Not good. We finally got the fellow to realize the house was not his new condo tree home and he moved on. 🙂

    1. I didn’t know they were kind of rare, but I suppose that makes sense. We never see them. That’s kind of bad about it trying to destroy your house. I guess it didn’t have any manners.

      1. Mine was a different type of woodpecker…very large …and not as striking in color as your feathered friend here. I saw a documentary at one point where in one State they believe they no longer exist. I loved seeing your photos.


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