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.
Dawn. In absolute silence, a pileated woodpecker hitches its way up a locust trunk, silhouette pivoting like a pawl on an invisible ratchet.
Just past daybreak, a pileated woodpecker whinnies, a nuthatch tuts, a crow croaks, and a gray squirrel clatters through gray branches.
A succession of anxious or querulous calls—nuthatch, crow, Cooper’s hawk, pileated woodpecker—until sunrise reddens the western ridge.
I watch the sunbeams’ slow drift of mites and motes, entranced, until a shadow cackles: pileated woodpecker resplendent in his tribal crest.
A pileated woodpecker explores a fallen tree in the meadow, the scarlet arrow of his crest appearing and disappearing in the dame’s-rocket.
So clear, even the mourning dove sounds joyful. Muffled thuds of a pileated in a dead tree, knocking—as Rumi would say—from the inside.
Through green-gold leaves backlit by the sun, a scarlet flame and the slow, newspaper flap of black and white: pileated. The Good God Bird.
Clear and cold. A silent pileated woodpecker propels itself through the sunlit upper air with great slow strokes of its shining oars.
A morning for woodpeckers: I hear the trilling of a red-bellied, the cackling of a pileated, and a downy’s steady trepanning of a maple.
A flat white sky, against which the cackling silhouettes of pileated woodpeckers flap and dive. My nostrils prickle with the smell of rain.
The close sweep of a woodpecker’s wings sets off a squirrel, who scolds for ten minutes until a male cardinal appears, red as a stop sign.
My breath is so thick I can hardly see. Through the hood of my coat I can just make out a pileated woodpecker drumming a half-mile away.
A pileated woodpecker herky-jerks to the top of a tall locust and flies off. My apple core disappears into the white yard without a sound.