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An Elusive Woodpecker

The bird at the top of my wishlist to see this spring was a bird that was probably impossible to find, but that I probably did see, I’m not sure. The second was this, not particularly uncommon bird, the Red Bellied Woodpecker who I probably had never seen before, but I wasn’t sure.

Red Headed Woodpecker

Now, the Red Headed Woodpecker is rarer, he’d never come to my house, and some might say he’s fancier (I admired a bunch of them this year for the first time and their red feathers shine as if they were made of metal.) Sometimes the Red Bellied bird does show his brilliant firetruck red feathers around where I live, like once last year:

Hairy Woodpecker

I was sitting in the house with my camera on my lap staring out the window into space. Only it wasn’t space, I was staring at a Hairy Woodpecker, the one who is almost always on my feeder. Sometimes he even falls asleep there so I’m used to seeing him. Remember back in the day before social media when we were tired we’d just zone out and think about whatever and stare into space? That’s what I was doing. Then I noticed that the light shining through the Hairy Woodpecker’s red feathers was especially fiery today and I focused my eyes and IT WAS A RED BELLIED WOODPECKER! A bird I’d never seen before! One I had gone off chasing after other people’s reports around town. And he was on my feeder! My phone was in my hand and when I clued in I flinched and threw it into the air, it bounced of the desk onto the floor. I aimed my camera just as a Red Squirrel leaped across the deck, landed on the feeder and flushed the Woodpecker. I didn’t get a photo. I’d stared at this bird for several minutes and didn’t get a photo. I marked it as a lifer on my list but before the end of the day I’d questioned myself so much that I took it off the list. I mean, would a Red Bellied Woodpecker actually come to a feeder? He seemed far to fancy for that.

Red Bellied Wood Pecker

So, when I saw my next first RBWO on a feeder in the campsite this spring I stopped traffic to take a photo and I answered ‘Yes! Yes they would come to a feeder!’ and now I believe myself that I’ve seen a RBWO. Well, since this one I’ve seen lots of them. There were so many where I was birding this spring that I got to know their voices well and even found a tree where two parents were preparing a nest.


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