The Pileated Woodpecker is our largest woodpecker with its flaming red crest and distinctive black and white head bands. They dig deep into rotten wood to feed on carpenter ants and other insects. My friend Anthony and I while walking through a city park spotted the characteristic rectangular holes the Pileated leaves in old wood. The Red-Breasted Sapsucker for comparison leaves lines of evenly spaced rows of small holes in the trees. Soon we heard the Pileated's loud cry and spotted it flying thorough the tree canopy. Always a thrilling bird for us to see. If left alone they will take up habitat in parks and around the edges of large cities. They prefer mature forests like the old growth Douglas firs forests here in the northwest and are also found in southern swamps. The Pileated became rare in eastern North America with the clearing of the forests and the advance of civilization but their numbers are increasing. We don't have as many as I used to see here in the northwest due to the continual clear cutting but as long as some old trees and snags are left uncut for feeding and nest sites they will survive. Here at home in the heart of logging country we always have a nesting pair in the spring. Their loud drumming on the old hollow tree across the logging road is a wonder to hear.
The fall season rains began this morning which make the reds and golds of the vine maples stand out in lovely contrast to the rain dark greens. Looking out the window behind this computer I see several Stellar Jays poking in the wet grass, the first large group of Varigated Thrushs also foraging in the lawn and a scattering of Oregon Juncos. I am especially happy to see the Varigated Thrush who will be here for the winter. My neighbors call them Alaska Robins. Every day and every season is a wonderful season for birding. Grab the rain parka and your boots and head outdoors. If I can not tempt you outside, grab a cup of coffee and pull up a chair nest to a window. In addition to the Jays, Thrushes and Juncos on this rainey morning I see a couple of Black Cap Chickadees, some Song Sparrows and a Towhee from my window.