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.
The sun glints off periwinkle leaves in the yard where snow has just melted. All sounds come from a great distance: crow, woodpecker, train.
Two pileated woodpeckers cackle back and forth. Patches of moss at the woods’ edge seem to glow in the dim light. The smell of rain.
Two pileated woodpeckers forage in the birches, scarlet crests glowing in the sun, the sky below them in the windshield of a parked truck.
Rain and fog. A pileated woodpecker performs invasive surgery on a locust tree next to the springhouse, removing a malignant colony of ants.
Colored leaves turn backwards in the cold wind—still the same pale green. A pileated woodpecker’s distant chant.
A pileated woodpecker heading for the tall locusts lets out a whoop with every wingbeat, its crest like the bloody barb of a harpoon.
Morning full of the cries of woodpeckers—part ululation, part rusty hinge. Like the sounds the trees make in a winter wind, speeded up.
To the south, the hysterical-sounding whoops of a pileated woodpecker. To the north, the rapid taps of a downy, that tachycardia.
The snowpack glows in the soft, mid-morning light. A dog barks in the valley. The resonant knocks of a woodpecker opening a new door.
I pause at the door, coffee in hand: six juncos decorate the dead cherry, fat, motionless. A pileated woodpecker cackles at the wood’s edge.