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.
With the leaves down, I can see deep into the woods: two pileateds work both sides of a birch. A redtail hawk flies just below the treetops.
The soft clatter of oak leaves on their way to the ground. Dull thumps as a pileated woodpecker excavates a hole, crest like a flaming axe.
A pileated woodpecker comes cackling into the dead elm, then quietly gets to work: hop down the trunk a few inches, listen for ants, repeat.
Green blur: a hummingbird. Two or three pileated woodpeckers cackle back and forth. The meter reader’s truck, its flashing yellow light.
A pileated woodpecker lands on the dead elm right beside the flicker den hole and knocks twice. A flicker pokes her head out. He flies off.
Two pairs of pileated woodpeckers breakfast 100 feet apart, one on adjoining oaks and the other side by side on the trunk of a locust.
Pileated woodpeckers forage on all sides, hammering, drumming, cackling, whooping. I feel as if I’m surrounded by a troupe of insane clowns.
Querulous cries of a raccoon, like lost notes from a soprano clarinet. Two pileateds hammer for their breakfast—an arrhythmic percussion.