Thursday, December 24, 2009

Giant Red, Black and White Woodpecker

Ya'll would not believe how excited I was when this morning I saw this giant woodpecker fly right to a dead branch of a native Cherry Tree outside my window and start pecking! I have only had the privilege of seeing this type of woodpecker two other times in my life in the last 9 years of living in the smokey mountains - they are HUGE woodpeckers, the second largest in North America and are hard to stalk or get a glimpse of. This one was the smaller of the three I have seen (and is female), but just as powerful a presence and just as striking with it's strong colorful markings and red mohawk head.
They make loud wild jungle cries, which you can listen to at click here!
The first time I ever saw a Pileated Woodpecker it was tremendous, I had never seen a bird so big. I was living in Bethel, NC in the Pisgah National Forest, the woodpecker had landed on a wooden outbuilding behind the house as I had been quietly standing there. It had not seen me and we were hardly 10 feet apart, when it did see me it did not seem to care I was there- we locked in a long unifying stare that I could never put a time frame on. I was in awe and wished I could see another one like it after it finally flew off.
The second time I saw one of these woodpeckers I was sitting inside my tiny house in Marshall, NC which was also deep in the woods - some unpainted wood siding had just been put on a small portion of the house. I was totally alone when I heard something hammering so loud on the side of the house I thought a human was pounding the back of the house with a sledge hammer! It was deafening and scared the crap out of me. I slowly walked to the back of the house, as I heard more frantic hammering but I could hear no human moving around back there. When I got around the corner of the house, there was the giant woodpecker slamming away at the wood. I had got my wish to see one again. :)
Info from "After the extremely rare Ivory-billed Woodpecker (Campephilus principalis), this is the largest woodpecker in North America. Despite its size, this elegant woodpecker is often shy and hard to observe. Obtaining a close view of one usually requires careful stalking. Although primarily a forest bird, the "Logcock" has recently become adapted to civilization and has become relatively numerous even on the outskirts of large cities, where its presence is most easily detected by its loud, ringing call and by its large, characteristically rectangular excavations in trees. Its staple food consists of carpenter ants living in fallen timber, dead roots, and stumps. The woodpecker excavates fist-sized rectangular cavities, then uses its enormously long, sticky tongue to reach the ant burrows...
17" (43 cm). A crow-sized woodpecker. Black with white neck stripes, conspicuous white wing linings, and prominent red crest. Male has red "mustache," female has black...
Lays 4 white eggs in a tree cavity."



Noel said...

Nice pics. How close did she let you get?

Leslie wears organic clothing and plays in dirt said...

Hey Noel-!
i was already crouched down by my bedroom window and she had not seen me at all... by sheer luck my camera was next to my hand, and i slowly picked it up and walked closer while her back was turned. I was right on the other side of the window, so i would say maybe i was 5 or 6 feet away! it was so cool. :)
She did see me after a while cause i started to get really close , it startled her and she flew away.

linda said...

Nice! We used to have those large rectangular holes in many old trees up at the cottage. I don't remember ever seeing a woodpecker as large as a crow, they were maybe just a bit bigger than a blue jay, the ones I remember seeing. I do remember the noise though, and I'll bet it was scary if on the side of your house!

Susie Collins said...

This bird is beautiful! Great shots. We don't have woodpeckers in Hawaii, so my only exposure to them as a kid was Woody the Woodpecker cartoon. When I saw the first true photo of one I felt duped by the ridiculous image I'd been given-- they are spectacular birds! I can imagine the thrill it was for you to get this close AND get some great photos.

Leslie wears organic clothing and plays in dirt said...

Hey Linda-

Yeah they do make some big holes... i knew the big woodpecker lived somewhere around here, cause i saw some of those holes too on a fallen tree in the woods- but had not heard it pounding since the summer. The holes they make are pretty, to me.

Susie -
Funny! After i wrote this post i thought about Woody the Woodpecker too, i had never seen one either and only knew about them through the cartoon growing up... oh man, that cartoon annoyed me! lol

Wild Canary said...

Hey girl! you got some awesome shots of that woodpecker...I have heard them...NC, vT, TN and maybe here and have seen them twice in flight...what a marvel that you got to watch and photo! Kudo's...guess it is your reward for enduring that whopper of a storm we are having spring weather here (highly unusual) goats are browsing up the hill and hubby went to get some more hay. HUGS! and thanks.

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