You might be surprised if you knew how often I find myself sitting on my couch going, “Ugh, I really do not feel like going for a walk right now but I need to find something new to blog about.” Inevitably, though, once I’m actually outside my energy comes back and I end up enjoying myself thoroughly.
Temperatures are up this week, and yesterday was one of those sunny winter afternoons where the trees start shedding their accumulation of snow – periodically you’d hear a loud FLUMP! and the creaking of newly unburdened branches as clumps of snow rained down on the forest floor. I heard another sound as I walked, though. It was a woodpecker tapping, and not just any woodpecker. The loud, slow TAP, TAP, TAP suggested a woodpecker that was big. (Note that I am not referring here to drumming, the sustained rat-tat-tat-tat-tat that woodpeckers use to announce their territorial claims.)
This is (of course) a Pileated Woodpecker – a female, as you can tell from the black forehead. This is a really cropped photo, but I spent a few minutes walking closer to try to get a better one. I was able to walk right up to the tree she was in without disturbing her, but she’d moved around to an awkward spot between branches.
I’m guessing it’s too early for them to be nesting, but pairs stay on their territories all winter, ripping up dead trees like this one in search of insects to eat (they’re especially fond of ants). This one was leaving quite a bit of debris around the base of the tree she was working on.
Nothing to brighten your afternoon like a close encounter with North America’s largest woodpecker!