A week of sub-freezing temperatures and I’d almost forgotten the smell of the earth. A pileated woodpecker opens its black-and-white wings.
The wind has stripped the treetops of most remaining leaves, flooding them with light. I watch the sine-wave flight of a far-off woodpecker.
Overcast and still. The hollow thumps of a pileated woodpecker foraging for breakfast. Walnuts fall on the back roof with an alarming crash.
A high-speed chase through the yard—one Cooper’s hawk tailing another. Woodpecker pandemonium. High above, a jet leaves two blank lines.
A pileated woodpecker comes yammering into the treetops and proceeds to groom, his clown-red crest flashing as he scratches under his wing.
Blue sky above the fog. The sun stretches long white spider legs into the woods. The cackle of a pileated woodpecker, followed by wingbeats.
A pileated woodpecker lands on the dead elm. She drums just below the old flicker den hole, then peers into it, moving her head all about.
Is it my imagination, or do the juncos seem especially restless this morning? The distant roar of a military jet. A pileated taps on an oak.
Sallow sky; a yellow pustule of sun. In a tall oak, a pileated woodpecker bangs his head, attracting an entourage of smaller woodpeckers.
When I step out, a pileated woodpecker flies cackling from a nearby tree, his crest as bright as a stop light this gray and rainy morning.
The curious satisfaction of watching snow erase my own footprints. Up in the woods, the woodpeckers too are busy fixing what isn’t broken.
Cold at sunrise. A pileated woodpecker hitches up the trunk of tall locust, pausing to yell when he reaches the sunlit crown.
The hammer-blows of a pileated woodpecker opening up an oak. Peonies are sprouting in the garden, an infant’s pink, half-open fists.
Three pileated woodpeckers work the trees just inside the woods’ edge, inching up trunks and cocking their heads to listen before they tap.
A lone junco forages in the driveway. (Sick? A pariah?) The labored flaps of a pileated woodpecker coming in low over the yard.
Cold and clear. In the woods to the east, a loud dialogue of knocks: two pileated woodpeckers seeking admittance to dormant cities of ants.