Slice of Life #18- Unicorn Birds


I am a very amateur birder. I put up a bird feeder last year and it’s become a bit of an obsession.  This year I joined Project Feederwatch so that I can contribute citizen science data to the project.  I love watching the birds and I’ve logged some pretty cool species at home this year.

I also bring my camera on every hike I take with the dogs, and the hikes usually take place daily.  I log most of my hike sightings on eBird, another citizen science project that collects birding data.  The eBird data is also shared with the public so I can keep track of migrations and rare sightings.  I’ve seen some pretty cool birds on our hikes but I have one unicorn bird.

The pileated woodpecker.

I discovered a family of pileated woodpeckers at a nearby park last year.  They are huge and look like dinosaurs.  On top of this, they are loud. But when I checked eBird I noticed that pileated woodpeckers don’t usually live around here.  They used to, but humans pushed them out with habitat loss.  At that point I assumed I was wrong, that I either misidentified the birds (that were very high in the trees) or the birds were just passing through.

But then I saw and heard them again.  And again.  And again. It was soon normal for me to hear them or see them 3-4 times each week.  At that point I became determined to get photographic evidence.

Not an easy task when the birds are usually 90+ feet in the canopy of the trees.

I got one photo like this.




A lot of photos even worse than this:


Both of these are heavily edited.

And then this week I finally, finally saw the pileated woodpecker up close!  I still didn’t get a fantastic picture, but I got a pretty good one.  A birding achievement, for sure!

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