A Good Day for Woodpeckers

Early this morning, a Hairy Woodpecker flew into a tall thin pine in our front yard, calling out a sharp “peenk!” It worked its way quickly up to the top of the tree, then immediately flew away, calling out in a crisp, metallic rattle as it went. Its black and white plumage looked sharp and clean in the soft, early gray light. Its movements were equally sharp, decisive, almost impatient, and its voice rang clear in the icy cold air. Water in the birdbaths was frozen into solid circles of ice, and the shrubs hung stiff and dark.

A Red-bellied Woodpecker, two Downy Woodpeckers and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker all were feeding nearby at about the same time, and later in the day, I heard the trumpeting call of a Pileated Woodpecker from the woods as I walked – so today I saw or heard almost all of our winter woodpeckers. (Two winters ago a juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker also spent the winter season in the neighborhood, near a small spring-fed pond. But not this year or last. Occasionally, I’ll still see one passing through, but not often.)

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