Snowflakes in the air give shape to the wind. I sneeze, and a pileated woodpecker emerges from the far side of an oak and flies off.
Soft light on the hard frost: more glimmer than glitter. A pileated woodpecker’s kak kak kak like a high-pitched engine trying to start.
A hollow, rasping grunt: either a raven or a buck in rut. The pileated woodpecker cackling in flight falls silent as soon as she lands.
The damp silence inside a cloud, broken only by a pileated woodpecker’s muffled tapping and the distant caw of a crow.
Gray and cool. The first hummingbird zooms past. A pileated woodpecker flies in to hammer the old butternut stump, keeping a wary eye on me.
Bright and cold. Echoing off the ice, the back-and-forth love notes of pileated woodpeckers bashing their heads against dead tree limbs.
Trees at the woods’ edge with their branches out to catch all the light they can—or in this case, snow. A pileated woodpecker’s flaming cap.
Woodpeckers big and small are tapping on trees without disturbing the snow on every branch. Hibernating insects will never hear the knock.
A new addition to the forest’s ensemble of creaks. The drumming of two pileated woodpeckers a quarter mile apart, fast as machine gun fire.
Staccato sounds: the distant drumming of a pileated woodpecker, a white-breasted nuthatch’s agitated call, rain tapping on the roof. Again.