Photo courtesy of Melanie Crawford

Bird Watching – Pileated Woodpecker

I’ve been noticing the birds around the farm, especially since we were lucky enough to move here just in time for spring. (And just in time to be quarantined so that we are spending a lot of time outside.) As I was beginning to notice our feathered friends more frequently, my (non-feathered) friend Melanie Crawford started posting beautiful photos of birds in her neck of the North Carolina countryside. Not only that, but she has been getting some very close-up shots and is able to identify the birds she’s capturing in her lens.

So, with Melanie’s permission, I will be sharing some of her photos here and there, as part of this fledgling blog (get what I did there?).

Male pileated woodpecker – Photo courtesy of Melanie Crawford

Earlier this month, anywhere I ventured on the farm I was serenaded by a constant drum beat — all … day … long. Now, this could have driven me crazy, but once I was able to pinpoint that the staccato beat was coming from high up in the trees, I realized it was a woodpecker gleefully feasting on his breakfast … and lunch … and dinner …. and the next day… and the next… You get the scene.

This bird soon became the backdrop soundtrack to my work in the garden. The drumming became soothing. Even from up in the art studio, the hollowed drumbeat kept me steady.

One morning, I walked into the art studio (at tree canopy level) and just happened to look out the front windows as my woodpecker friend flew past. Such a sublime experience to see this creature in full luster with wings outspread, dipping up and down on the breeze.

This visit led me read up on these beautiful beings. For those interested, here are a few facts about Pileated Woodpeckers…

Male pileated woodpecker – Photo courtesy of Melanie Crawford
  • -Crow-sized, around 16-19 inches
  • -Weigh 9-12 pounds (the weight of my cat!)
  • -Wingspan is 26-29 inches
  • -Their bill is about the length of their head
  • -Feast on carpenter ants and other insects, as well as wild fruit and berries
  • -Live in forested areas where they can find dead trees and downed wood
  • -Both parents play a role in feeding their young (Yay for teamwork!)
  • -Holes are pecked 15-80 feet above ground and are rectangular in shape
  • -The male pileated woodpecker has a red stripe on his cheek, where the female does not
  • -Their drumming and ringing calls are used to defend their territory

Bird identification is new to me. I guess I’ve never really taken the time to notice and research. But with Melanie’s help through her photographs, I will be seeking out more birds that lived on this pasture and in these woods long before we moved in. After all, it’s only polite to get to know the beings with whom we live.

What birds do you find around your home? Are there any you’d like more information about? Let me know, and I’ll be happy to research.

Two sites that I find helpful are:

Happy Birding!

Sometimes nature leads to poetry and art. Painted collage and found poem by me, Barbara Hengstenberg

All bird photographs above are courtesy Melanie Crawford.