Yesterday afternoon I was graced with a visit from Mr./Mrs. Pileated Woodpecker! If you look closely in the photo above you can see a newly pecked big wood chip on its chest right by the claw. Its been hanging around this tree for about a week now but my camera battery always turned out to be dead. (My camera is eating battery life these days. Lack of use?)
I had noticed this tree which stands at the back of the grass yard and the beginning of the woods part of the yard some time ago and wondered at its bark loss. It stands out like a sore thumb. I had even gone down to look at it a few weeks back, thinking in my head that it was the work of a bear. But on closer inspeciton I didn't see any claw marks. It looked like it had been chiseled. A few days later I saw the pileated pecking away at it and it became clear that it was doing the damage. Here is a photo so you can see how much of tree is without bark.
This time I had my camera battery waiting and fully charged. I made my way slowly and carefully down the yard in my house slippers, tip-toeing in the snow and below freezing temperatures closer and closer to it until I dared not get any closer. The result is this set of photos. I am thinking that it was worth the discomfort of frozen body parts.
It would sit there cocking its head back and forth, intently listening to whatever bug it could hear moving inside the tree. The attack of the big beak is brutal and deliberate —and loud. What it must feel like inside the bird's head is beyond me!
I like this last pic because you can see the wind blowing its crest.
A truly magnificent bird, and one that I will miss when we move. We are so lucky to have them in the neighborhood, and even better in my yard!