Does it get any better???
So, I'm sitting on the sofa having the weekly chat with my parents on the phone when I catch some motion out back. Holy cow - it's a pileated woodpecker (dryocopus pileatus)! Before I could get a shot, it was gone. BUT (you knew there was going to be a but), it came back with it's MATE!!! Holy crap, we've got a pair of pileateds in the woods behind the house!!!
So this was taken at 500mm, hand held, through our windows (which I'd thankfully cleaned yesterday) and working with a surplus of excitement-induced Adrenalin.. And a running commentary to my parents who were still on the pone. Then I cropped the hell out of it. I took over 150 shots, most of them in the bin now. But I posted the best shots in a special Flickr Set, if you'd like to have a look. This particular shot features the female on the left, with her crest raised while the male is busily excavating on the right. Showing off a bit, perhaps?
They were on the same cedar tree I've seen one of them on during the winter. It must have termites or ants because they are definitely returning to feed regularly. This pair was out there a good 30 minutes (before I tried to creep outside and spooked them.) The tree is full of excavation holes, not the sort for a nest, but the sort for feeding. Luckily there are plenty of dead trees back in the woods, so I expect they will breed here this summer - and maybe we'll be treated to pileated fledglings at some point. Meanwhile, this is a big WOW bird for me, right up there with a spoonbill, actually.
For those who aren't familiar with these birds, they are our largest woodpecker, measuring about 19" (48 cm), about the size of a large crow. They feed almost exclusively on insects with a special preference for carpenter ants. They occupy and defend large territories year round and generally mate for life.
Thank you so much for the hearts, stars and lovely comments on yesterday's snowy cardinal.
Happy St. Patrick's Day - and sorry I can't blip green ... but we've still got yesterday's snow on the ground and besides ... a pileated woodpecker trumps green for me!