Friday, September 3, 2010

September 3: Four Woodpeckers

This morning when I got out of bed I looked out the back window to see why the blue jays were making such a ruckus. On the lawn were dispersed three robins, a squirrel, and a flicker. The flicker was almost underneath the window, and my appearance there caused him to look up. Flickers often "graze" on lawns for ants and other lawn-loving grubs, but they aren't usually right under my window. So I got a good, albeit brief, look at his smooth brown belly covered with black spots, the black band across his breast, and the little black "mustache" pattern on his face that told me he was a male. Then he flew off into the trees, flashing his characteristic white rump. The robins and squirrel hung out for a while longer, and a downy woodpecker whinnied from the trees over our shed.

Woodpeckers have been especially verbal today. When I got to work, a pileated woodpecker was calling loudly and repeatedly from somewhere nearby. Yesterday afternoon he made so much noise that I finally went outside and spotted him preening in a birch tree above my co-worker's truck. The National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of Eastern North America describes the sound as "a loud wuck note or series of notes, given all year." That hardly conveys the crazy cackle that resonates throughout the neighborhood when a pileated woodpecker feels like making some noise. In addition to his wuck-ing, I also heard another flicker and a hairy woodpecker--a total of four woodpecker species in one day without even going outside. I may be a lazy birder during my work week, but I can't complain about the birds I do manage to see or hear.

Posing on my lawn,
flicker shows his true colors.
Then--white rump flashing.

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