Friday, January 4, 2013

January 4: Red-bellied Woodpecker

This morning when I got to work, the trees were birdy. A small flock of juncos flitted and twittered near my car, the usual feeder birds were queuing up in the bushes, one nuthatch spiraled head-first down a birch trunk, and a pair of jays watched with bright eyes. From inside my office I watched with binoculars, hoping to see something interesting turn up--more redpolls, perhaps, or an errant sparrow.

As I stood there in the center of the room, one of the jays landed in a feeder. Usually I shoo them off because they're too big for the feeders, and they eat too much. But I hadn't seen a jay here for awhile, so decided to let it eat in peace. Their blue plumage (which isn't really blue, but that's another story) looks so pretty in contrast with the white snow.

Soon the second jay passed overhead, moving from a nearby tree to the edge of the roof over my feeders. But instead of another jay at a feeder, a Red-Bellied Woodpecker suddenly appeared.

Red-bellied Woodpecker (male).
Photo by Ken Thomas via Wikimedia Commons.
He stayed eating bird seed not only long enough for me to yell to my co-workers to come see but also for them to actually watch him for a few seconds. Then he flew off into the trees, moving upriver. He didn't return, but it's good to know there's still one in the neighborhood. This southern species has made an amazing incursion into Maine in the past eight to ten years or so. Before that, to see one here at all was unusual. Now they're hanging out through the winter, popping up in my own yard, their chirring call becoming so familiar that a couple nights ago I dreamed I heard one.

Should I expect all my dreams
to become as real
as this visiting woodpecker?

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