A bird’s screech, a flash of red across my path, and I stop.
I’m pretty good at keeping my head up to take in the forest, but there are days when I find myself treading carefully or else lost in thoughts, and that is when I miss what is happening around me. I stand still and wait to see if the bird will return.
Thinking it may have been trying to distract a predator from a nest or mate, I look carefully into every tree around me. Birders know how to do this–I am not an intensive birdwatcher. Should I lean into the brush? Do I crouch down? Why did I leave my camera at home?
Within a few seconds I hear a tapping in the trees. Stepping into the brush, I can see the tip of a tail and then the bird about halfway up an old fir. It taps determinedly, lifting its head frequently and looking left and right.
It is a woodpecker, and not until I get home and look through my West Coast Birds do I learn that it is a Pileated Woodpecker. West Coast Birds writes that these are “secretive and retiring birds” recognized by a “laughing call” or “rhythmic drumming.”
So, I have documented two Pileated Woodpeckers in Mt. Doug forest. My book says it is a good idea to carry a notebook, maybe a pencil to document quick observations, dates and activities, as these are often lost in the excitement of sightings. I think I’ll just try to remember the camera.
I’d be curious to know how many of these birds have been seen by other Mt. Doug hikers.
Here is a link to the bird and its call.