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.
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.
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.