Friday, April 9, 2010

House Finch and Pileated Woodpecker

Over the past week as the sun and blue sky have offered a break from the continuous rain, we have delighted in observing the work habits of our feathered friends; so many pairs working diligently throughout the now-animated garden, but one couple in particular decided to stay quite close to home.

As I have worked at the computer, my attention has been diverted to repeated and similar movement outside the large picture window to my right - intervals of continuous back and forth whisks and bobs. At the farthest edge of the window grows a Camellia with several branches slightly extended and seen from my seated position; to the left edge, but not visible as I face the monitor, is a 7-foot high Taxus baccata 'Fastigiata Aureo-marginata'. Left of the monitor is another window, outside of which is a small garden room with an Abelia, and on this particular morning a male House Finch was perched upon it.

I stood and moved cautiously toward the activity in order to observe the goings on. There the female gently bobbed and balanced upon the edge of an upper branch while dangling a small tender twig she had previously ripped loose from the Abelia and upon which her main guy stood watch.

Past the window to its opposite edge she flew to the Taxus baccata and into which she vanished. (They do love the columnar evergreens throughout the garden.) So as she caught a glimpse of me, was she thinking, What are you doing here?!!

The sentry preened himself, but overall remained steadily alert and with little movement.

Within minutes she was back to the Abelia to do it all again. Hurriedly she worked beneath him, then darted back to the Camellia, seesawing, perusing left, then right, and left again... past the window, back into the evergreen, then out... tirelessly she worked.

The day before yesterday, he got into the act. Where was she? Perhaps he told her, At this point I can take care of this... you go shopping. Thoughtfully, she might have replied, Right! while I've been working my butt off for a week now and it's almost done...

Yep, yesterday morning she was at it again, but now collecting some softer ground vegetation.

As I approached the window for a closer shot, I heard the whistle
of warning. There he was, monitoring atop the Camellia branch, and when he saw me, a shout out, and away they flew.

Could it be that it is finally time? I know I'm worn out.

Pileated Woodpecker (Drycopus pileatus)

On my way back to the greenhouse yesterday, but first with a pause to enjoy the beautiful golden foliage of Physocarpus opulifolius 'Dart's Gold' tucked beneath Cedrus Atlantica 'Glauca',

... I could hear a sound within the morning silence. The closer I got to the structure the louder the rhythmic pounding. I tiptoed to the building's edge to sneak a peak, and something was hard at work only 20-25 feet away.

This guy with his red cheek pad was not phased by me. I made a slight clicking sound with the tip of my tongue against the roof of my mouth - click, click, click... which peaked his curiosity a bit, but he went on about his work. Might his brain be muddled from years of this forceful pecking?

I worked in the greenhouse for about an hour, and when I looked out again, there he was, but a change in position. He seemed to be enjoying the day as much as I. Was he sunning himself or thinking of the blog he would write about some old crazy woman watching him?

Is he not a bizarre and eccentric-looking character, yet striking? How can I look upon him and not think of Woody Woodpecker?