Background Switcher (Hidden)

Red-headed Woodpeckers, September

Sunday, September 22, 2013

September 8, 2013. I finally, finally get the time and space and decent weather to go to my little Valhalla, North Bend State Park in Harrisville, WV. I'm really not expecting much in the way of red-headed woodpeckers. I figure they have probably moved south by now. Boy, was I wrong.

They're everywhere, quirrking and churring and rattling and fighting, flycatching and drumming. It's heaven all over again. 

They always look like toys to me, like something unreal. Ceramic, maybe.

Their colors so bold, so clean. And they're loud, loud, loud. You know they're there. They don't let you forget it.  These two were involved in some kind of uber-cool display in which they stretched out and tilted back and forth. Look at this photo and imagine a swelling chorus of swamp cicadas all around. 

I loved how this bird looked, like an animated door-knocker, the sky beneath his tail.

I believe we owe this fantastic occurrence of RHWO to the swamp cicadas, for that's what I see them eating every time I visit my personal paradise. This day I would count at least 60 birds. 

I don't know how anyone could be so blessed as to see 60 redheads in a day. 

Perhaps, thinking about it, it has something to do with putting a canoe in your car and schlepping it an hour and a half down the highway with the hatch open; with slipping on the algae-covered boat ramp while embarking and cracking your elbow so hard it still hurts on September 22. It has something to do with getting off your chair parts and getting out there to see what's what. Nothing magic about it. You just have to go.

I made it my goal to get a decent photo of a recently-fledged juvenile, with its ashen head. Easier said than done.  

It was very shy, and it kept a lot of branches between us. 

But I stuck with it and at length I saw it sally out and grab a cicada and process it. Hooray! For it's cicadas that make this place so productive, cicadas and the dead snags that act as apartment houses for these glorious birds. Lookit the little red feather on his throat. By next spring he should be a real redhead.

Long may they prosper. And yet I know, even as I cheer them on, that the RHWO colony at North Bend State Park is a limited-time only offer. That the snags are rotting, breaking, falling, and when they've all fallen down the red-heads will come here no more. 

And so I go, not expecting them, but finding them.

Not deserving them, but receiving them.

And so grateful to be there amongst them.


Reminds me a lot of the Acorn woodpeckers here in Arizona. I was up in Prescott a couple of weeks ago. The Acorn woodies were everywhere and noisy as a flock of chickens in a hen house -- lol!! Thanks for giving me such great views of an old friend:-)

Some excellent pictures of these beauties!

It seems that luck and magic favor the prepared mind and body....Wonderful outing!

Sorry about your elbow. Mine hurts, and I haven't done anything bad to in in years.

Kathy in Delray Beach.

Amen! Love all woodpeckers. We have the Acorn and the Nuttall's in my next of the Chaparrals in Southern Ca.

I would feel ecstatic to see 6, and can't even imagine 60. Great photos!

I loved seeing your photos of the red-headed woodpeckers. One of my clearest memories from childhood is going with my mom to a neighbor's house to watch the red-head that was coming to her bird feeders! It was quite a rarity in our area (Bucks Co, PA). I've only seen them a few times since then (on trips) but they remain a favorite bird. Thanks for the great post!

60 red-headed woodpeckers at North Bend! An easy trip for me. I saved some of your pictures. What is the best way to share them or your blog on my facebook page?

I'd appreciate your sharing the link to this post, An Ordinary Day. Simply paste this link into the status update box on your Facebook page. You should be able to choose which photo accompanies the link when the link pops up. Thank you!

[Back to Top]