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Pileated Woodpeckers in Flight

Sunday, October 28, 2012

There are so many beautiful things to see from our towertop. I always take my big camera rig (Canon 7D with 70-300 IS L telephoto lens) because something lovely nearly always flies by. I've pulled the summer and fall's collection of flying pileated woodpeckers from my stacks and logjams of photos.

Since I'm usually up there in the morning, and the pileateds are most active then, I get these fabulous backlit creations winging by. This is a female, as evidenced by her blackish forecrown.

They give me plenty of warning, because pileated woodpeckers don't do anything without yakkin' about it. Cuk cuk cuk cuk cuk cuk cuk 

This is a male, with red running all the way to his nostrils.

Seems like there's not a whole lot of upstroke, but a lot of downstroke in a pileated's cycle.

I revel in the backdrops, almost as much as in the beauty of the bird. Virginia pines make a splendid screen. Another female. You getting it?

A bomb, a bullet, her wings pulled in, just slicing the air. These birds do not soar. They must flap all the time, but they rest in between flaps and let their momentum carry them. Wingbeats of a pileated under way are actually pretty slow--there's a lot of silence between the notes.

In the mist, a planted row of white pines behind her. My gosh.

Seemingly brushing the top of the tulip. 

All stretched out, her wingtips flaring upward as they bear her weight. 

And shooting downward as a hen rockets across our meadow. Wow. The tower is good good good for looking down on birds. I like to look down on birds now and then. Light's better.

Headed east, coursing our north border. It's a watercolor, for sure.

One of the nicest images, I think. Must paint this.

Would I had time to paint everything that tugs at my heart. A storm front in the evening, from towertop, our raggedy old meadow stretching and curving like a cat.

When you read this, I will be making my way the nine hours to Cornell's Lab of Ornithology. I'm giving the Monday Night Seminar there at 7:30 pm on October 29. There's a big storm coming (Hurricane Sandy comes north, meets Arctic air, does a do-si-do, creates epically bad shizz) that might have other plans for me and my little Subaru. Wish me luck. And come see me if you're near Ithaca. I always have loads of fun at the Lab. From reading about it with reverence as a kid to going there to give a talk, well, it's been a long, strange trip. Fun, too.


ahhhh... my favorite bird... never ever ever EVER tire of seeing or hearing them (as Taylor Swift might say ;-)

Epic post, epic bird.

Posted by J.B. Wheatley October 28, 2012 at 5:16 AM

The pic of her flying through the mist is spectacular! My favorite bird to watch. Thank you so much for sharing these photos and good luck on your trip. I am up near the Canadian border in upstate NY and we are supposed to get some serious wind here. Safe travels.

Julie these are wonderful pictures -- I love the different light you aptured, and your shutter speed was perfect, no small feat given the undulating flight f these birds!!! --Laura

Ooh. I get it. Thank you.

I see why you're so fond of that third to the last shot -- looks like it was taken in the golden hour before sunset. Lovely!

5Julie, these birds are such a joy to see. We have them in our back woods.

Wow. Fantastic shots! Hope your trip goes okay.

Hope you got to have your program and did have to swim your car through any flood waters. Please give us a report soon.

And I did LOVE your favorite picture of the pileated. I always want to be more like the pileated and less like the ivory-billed woodpecker - more go with the flow instead of being stuck in a rut of just one habitat and that sans people.

Love your birds in flight! Say... just saw your photo in "Birding is Fun" blog this morning. Nice photo there, too! (Doesn't look like SE Ohio to me ;-) Did you eat at the Moosewood Inn when in Ithaca?

These photos are stunning! Don't you wonder what the birds are thinking as they soar through space?

Posted by October 30, 2012 at 3:52 PM

Love the pics, but I can't read the words! it's all crowded off to one side for some reason.

To all of you who've emailed and messaged me to say that the blog is not coming up properly for you...we're working on it. I was updating my "Julie in the Flesh" section last week, hit "Save," and Blogger's layout went haywire. We thought we had it fixed and it works on my Firefox and Safari browsers, but I think Internet Explorer still has an issue with it. Try a different browser, try a different computer; try emptying the cache and clearing the cookies under "Preferences" in your browser. Let me know here if that still doesn't work, or on the online comment box ion my website, Tell me which browser you're using and what you're seeing. All I can say is I'm sorry, and we're trying to get it fixed.

It was a problem with Internet Explorer being super picky about some junk html code that Blogger inserted when I made my edits. It's fixed now. All hail my Web Witch!!

Try again!

I LOVE these pictures! The Pileated Woodpecker is one of my absolute favorite birds.

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