Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Pileated Woodpeckers

Pileated Woodpeckers, the ones with the large red crests, are a little bit rare in Southeast Texas (or at least pretty difficult to spot!). I usually see one or two a few times a year, but last year I didn't see a single one! They are the largest and loudest of the woodpeckers, unless the very recently re-discovered ivory-billed woodpecker is larger, and it's my impression that they're about the same size. (OOPS! Wrong! The ivory is about 3 inches longer than the 16.5" pileated. It's hard to remember the details of a bird that up until a few weeks ago was extinct!)

All this in mind, I was considerably excited yesterday when I heard a loud knocking and looked up to see one of these birds in plain sight on the oak tree in front of me. As my jaw dropped, another one joined the first one! They stayed in sight for a good while, first on that tree, then on another tree across the street, but still close by. I assume they are a breeding pair and I hope they hang around the neighborhood a while or at least return a few times before summer is over. Maybe if I pay enough attention I can figure out where they're nesting. Of course the nest that's accessible to them might not be very accessible to me. Life is more difficult when you don't have wings.

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