Spotted on my drive to work: Maryland’s largest and most Woody the Woodpecker looking woodpecker. I did not whip out my camera from behind the wheel; the photo is courtesy of All About Birds. I have been hoping to see this guy for awhile but I figured my patience would be tested far longer than it has! It’s been a good winter for life birds. Just the other day I was wandering around with my still exotically new binoculars and, expecting a Downy or a Hairy in the distance, realized that the woodpecker on an Ash was a Yellow Bellied Sapsucker. That, like this Pileated, was a new-to-me bird. Being a baby birder myself, I’ve been getting life birds left and right. I am expecting many more come the spring migration. Every time I still can’t quite believe it. They really exist outside my field guides!!
Today I was heading south on 97 near Montgomery County’s Ag Reserve, but near some houses and even a strip mall, when I saw a crow-sized woodpecker going at a stump right next to the road. There was no one behind me so I slowed down and got a good look. It really was Woody! I think it was a male with a slightly red “mustache” chin stripe as in the photo. Females have a mustache too, but black. I couldn’t believe the size of this thing, or the crazy punk red crest on its head.
These dudes and dudettes mate for life, and stay together through the cold and icy winter months. According to the Cornell Ornithology website, they were once birds of the deep forest, but they’ve begun to adapt to areas developed by humans. Drive safely, since this means that if you stay on the alert you may well spot one too!
One more photo from Cornell because how cute is this shizz?
They (but mainly Daddy) drill a hole in the tree for the nest, and the next season other cavity nesters use it! Pileateds like to make a fresh hole. May the circle be unbroken…