Pileated Woodpecker, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada by Barbara Levy

Picture Story

As I write this story on February 9th, I’m smiling to myself because the handsome Pileated Woodpecker ("...one of the biggest, most striking forest birds...” in North America, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology) you see in my photo just paid me another visit this afternoon while I was watching intently for one of our Ruby-crowned kinglets. This woodpecker (whose red moustache indicates that he is in fact male) and his mate have shared and defended their territory on our common land for quite a number of years and each one comes at regular times to excavate more rectangular holes in one of their favourite snags at the bottom of our gravel driveway (which divides both sides of our “wild” backyard).

This past August, I stepped outside with my telephoto lens one afternoon to see if any of my bird buddies were foraging. I stood very still and suddenly saw my woodpecker swoop up onto the telephone pole in the middle of our driveway. He was in deep shade and so, I waited, hoping he might land somewhere with better lighting. He must have heard my thoughts because suddenly, he left his perch and swooped down onto the ground into this spotlight which really showed off his flaming-red crest. I was amazed that he let me crouch down quite close to him while he foraged for just a minute. I feel, by the look in his clear eye, that he was curious and wanted to see who was admiring him before he flew off again into the woods. Thank you to this marvellous fellow for making such a memorable appearance!

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