Sunday, 2 March 2008

Sunday afternoon visitor

One of these guys scared me almost out of my wits some years ago when we lived higher up the valley. I was at home alone when I heard loud knocking. I investigated and realized the sounds were coming from the backyard. After several heart-pounding minutes - which I will not describe, especially the part where I armed myself with a kitchen knife - I discovered a woodpecker like the one in the photo tapping away at a dead grapefruit tree in the backyard. I had never seen one before, so once I had ascertained that a murderous thug was not trying to break into the house and hack me to death, I sat at the window and watched the bird until it finally flew away.

Today one of its kin appeared in the yard, tapping away at a wooden fence post. This is the first one I've seen here; I called my mother, who was doing something in the front yard, and we stood at the back door lost in admiration. It didn't seem to notice us about 12 feet away, and if it did that did not distract it from its hunt for insects in the dead wood. After about 10 minutes it flew away into a neighbour's plum tree.

This woodpecker is quite large, about a foot from tip to tail, I estimated. The beak looks lethal. Hope he/she makes a habit of dropping in on us.


Chumplet said...

We have similar woodpeckers here, but they're smaller. If we have the red headed kind, they stick to the woods across the street. I hear the tat-tat-tat all summer long.

For a few years, a mallard duck appeared every spring and regularly tapped on our basement window.

Pacha said...

The bird is beautiful. You're so lucky you have these kind of visitors! Hope he/she does comes back!

Lane said...

What a beautiful visitor!
The sound must be incredible (when you know what it is:-)

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

That's a punk rock bird. He wouldn't look out of place on the King's Road (famous London street where stylish punk rockers hang out and pose, for anyone who doesn't know about it).

The Anti-Wife said...

Occasionally we'll get woodpeckers here. It's amazing how fast they peck.

Martha Alderson said...

Woodpeckers symbolize the drums of change. Although change is the only constant in life, still, I keep an eye of for some deeper sort of change when I hear a woodpecker.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

A foot long? Wow. I have seen them in our yard at old house back on the east coast but they were much smaller. Very loud however.

KeVin K. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KeVin K. said...

What you have there is a pileated woodpecker. The one in the picture is male, the female's red crest stops above its eyes. Until I went to this site I thought pileated woodpeckers were only native to the swamps and bayous of Gulf coastal region and Florida. Then I remembered I was the one native to the Gulf coast and Florida.

If the pileated you saw was only a foot long it's a young one -- they get up to 18 inches. They are very similar to (and slightly larger than) the Ivory Bill -- which was once thought to be extinct. The pileated has a grey bill while the Ivory Bill has (surprise!) a white bill. No idea how the bird got to your island. I'm thinking it had human help.

(Had to delete myself and repost to include that link.)

wordtryst said...

Chumplet, what's up with that duck?

Pacha, yes, I think we're lucky. Unfortunately not all of us realize this, and many of our wild species are now endangered.

Lane, the sound is indeed incredible. I imagine the bird must have quite a headache at the end of the day!

Anti-wife, fast and LOUD!

Zinnia, he's punk all right. Love his hair! Didn't David Bowie used to have a do like that?

Martha, I hope the change it augurs is all good.

Nyc/caribbean, it was rather large indeed.

Kevin, I don't think that's our bird. The one I saw had distinct black and white bands across the chest and closely resembles the Guayaquil woodpecker or the lineated woodpecker, native to Central and South America. Also, yours appears to have a lot more white about the face and neck.