A Winter’s Call
casein on gessoed panel
24″ x 12″
The pileated woodpecker is my nemesis bird. I have a pair of pileated woodpeckers that live in the woods around my house. They have been around for years, but have proven very elusive to my camera. I hear them regularly throughout the day, calling back and forth to one another. They appear to nest somewhere nearby and to raise young, but over the years I have never managed to get very good pictures of them.
I see their pterodactyl-looking flight patterns as they cross over our pasture, calling their pterodactyl-sounding call. They tend to fly through the yard very early in the morning and late evening when the lighting conditions are not that great.
All of that changed last year; for some unknown reason they showed themselves to me in many situations and I was able to follow along with my camera. I tend to drop everything I am doing when I hear them calling, grab my camera and run outside! This particular chilly December day I heard them calling, grabbed my camera and quietly snuck out the back door as they sounded very close. I scanned the yard and unbelievably, with heart thumping I saw the female in the nearby fox grapes about as close as I have been to one of them.
She was so intent on eating the last of the shriveled up grapes that she ignored me sneaking closer and taking more pictures! That is until she heard ‘the call’! Her mate was calling from somewhere deeper in the woods. She flung her head around, seemingly ready to leave to join him. The fox grapes won over though, as she calmly returned to eating more of them, while I watched and photographed, ignoring my rapidly freezing fingers.
A few minutes later, she leisurely flew off the grape vines, calling and squawking to her mate as she flew. Thank you pileated woodpecker!