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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