Background Switcher (Hidden)

Red-headed Woodpeckers!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

I grew up with red-headed woodpeckers in Richmond, Virginia. There was a housing development where one of my friends lived that was lousy with them. Even though I could see them any time I wanted, I still thought they were special. One of my earliest rehab patients was a car-hit red-headed woodpecker. Such a spirited bird, so willing, so full of life. Too bad it ended badly. I learned the hard lesson at eight that you don't take a wild bird with a broken wing to a dog and large animal vet. It isn't fair to either of them. Still, I got to know a little something of the red-headed woodpecker's spirit. What a wonderful bird he was, even grounded and scuttling around in a cardboard box.

The high, hoarse Queerk! of the red-headed woodpecker electrifies me to this day. Bill and I thought we'd landed on Planet Paradise when it hit us that we were in the midst of a RHWO colony at North Bend State Park in western West Virginia. 

We found three nests, and had we headed to our left, we'd have probably found at least that many more. But we had our hands full discovering everything there was in one short traverse of the lake.

Bill of the Birds settled back, trying to get acceptable images of a shy pair tending their young. To combat drift, you have to hang yourself up in a snag to still the canoe. They like to faunch around when you're trying to get your shot.

Technically, a 300 mm. telephoto isn't quite enough glass for this situation. I'm thinking hard about upgrading my camera equipment, getting a lens I can put a doubler on. I just wanted to be closer to these birds, but they were skittish as could be, and I never got the photos I wanted. Still, some are evocative of the moments I experienced.

This lovely bird stopped to sunbathe, drooping his wing.

They looked so beautiful against the weathered trunks. Even as I enjoyed the afternoon, I was trying to figure out when and how I could get back before the babies (which were peeping weakly in the cavities) were out of the nest. 

It's been such a busy summer. The first part of June was given to North Dakota, and the minute we got back the kid-maintenance appointments started--teeth, eyes, hair. More teeth. More eyes. Physicals. Everyone needing maintenance. Is it any wonder Mom lets hers slide? I'm writing this from the waiting room of an oral surgeon who at this moment is taking six (yes, our kids are extraordinary in every way) wisdom teeth out of poor Phoebe's jaws. This is the second time I've seen one of my babies go under anaesthesia, and it runs counter to every fiber in my being to witness that. It's like sending them to the Underworld. She'll be fine, she's got a momma making Vicodin smoothies. Hangin' in there...dreaming of canoeing on this fine puffy white cloud summer day; just not able to do it right now. I'm sure that's a familiar feeling to many of you all. Send your good wishes to our poor lil' flame-haired Chipmunk. She needs them.

Mimi darling, it was such a tonic to see you. I needed those hugs!


Poor Phoebe! I had my 4 removed and a bonus extra baby tooth chipped out at the same time. Vicodin smoothies were needed but she'll recover fine, I'm sure.

Adding faunch to the list of words you've forced me to look up. Love it. What a good sound it has.

Our little NH hill is woodpecker central, but I've never seen this one. What a beauty! Thanks as usual.

I've always said that our kids were "dentally advanced," since they both lost their baby teeth and grew adult teeth years before their peers.

But Six wisdom teeth! Extraordinary indeed! Hope she comes out of anesthesia well. My Emily is a fighter when she comes to.

I hope to see a red-headed woodpecker someday. Thanks for taking us along.

Wayne, pa.

Posted by Anonymous June 30, 2011 at 2:12 PM

I always knew Phoebe was extraordinarily wise. Just be careful of those meds, Momma. When I had my wisdom teeth out, my mom gave me too much and I tried to join the army. And saw mailboxes flying around the room!

As always, I enjoyed your musings on your trips and the animals you saw. I wish the woodpeckers had played nicer for the camera (and for us internetters!) but at least you shared their experience in a lovely way.

PS. I only had 3 wisdom teeth, and assumed I was some hybrid towards a completely wisdom toothless H. sapien. Since Phoebe had 6, maybe we're not evolving so quickly after all. :)

You're seriously making me want to get a canoe or kayak, although I don't think I have anywhere that beautiful and bountiful to use it!

I am lucky enough to have these (my favorites) as well as the six other species of woodpecker native to KY as regular visitors to my backyard. They show up late April or early May and leave around Labor Day, and every year have raised babies which show up at the feeders usually in August sometime. I have at least one pair, but I think there may be three- hard to tell, most I have seen at a time is three adults or three juveniles; but this time of year if I keep my feeders full (currently like shelled peanuts, but initially started coming for dried banana chips and will eat BO sunflower also- have never seen them on suet) they will be around most of the afternoon and then usually show up right before they settle in for the night too. They are incredibly beautiful and easy to spot as they flash white as they fly past my living room windows to let me know they're there! I always said if I had enough land to name it I would call my place "Pecker Woods"!

Poor Phoebe!
I can so relate to summer maintenance.
I love those redheadedwoodchippers, but I wee waaaaay more pileateds and red-bellied down here.

Phoebe, I had 4 wisdom teeth out at one time.
According to Anne it explains a lot about my current intelligence.

A missed photo is an excuse to buy a bigger lens.
If you buy a doubler/converter check to see if the auto focus will still work. I have the 100-400 stabilized one and the converter will not work with the auto focus. These old eyes need auto focus.

[Back to Top]