Dryocopus pileatus. AKA the Pileated Woodpecker. This one, an adult female (because she doesn’t have a red line from bill to throat as the male does), made a visible presence in our backyard very early in the morning a few days ago. I say visible because she’s been audibly present most of this summer but we’ve never actually caught a glimpse until now. Many folks believe they are rare but they are not. That reputation probably comes from the fact that they are quite skittish, as she was.
It was about 6:30 in the morning and I almost felt the vibration on our breakfast table from the drumming noise. Very loud. Looked out the back window, saw her about 30 yards away banging away at a not too healthy black birch. Put the big lens (100-400 mm zoom) on my camera, attached it to the tripod, went very quietly outside. Soon as I turned the corner — whoosh, big flapping striped wings and she was gone. Positioned the camera on the deck, aimed at the spot she had been persistently working on (later I saw the shards of wood on the ground) and waited. Target was in the shade so used a pretty high ISO (film speed) and had time to set the camera to shutter priority (1/80th sec), aperture around 8 to blur the background. About 20 minutes later she returned and started in on the birch and I started clicking away. She gave me almost a minute then she was gone, whoosh again. She hasn’t been back since, though we hear her. A great moment.
Want to hear her call or the drumming? check out this site http://birds.audubon.org/birds/pileated-woodpecker
You may also be thinking about Walter Lanz famous cartoon character, Woody the Woodpecker, who had the most obnoxious laugh/call. Click here to be reminded