Sunday, June 29, 2008

Frustrated Pileated

Friday evening, I saw Big Daddy (our adult male Pileated Woodpecker) frantically flapping his wings while on the suet feeder. Gasping, I thought he must have somehow caught his foot in the wire. I panicked, wondering how I would be able to release him without injury to either of us.

Then my attention moved to the top of the feeder. To my great surprise, a gray squirrel was sitting on the hook, challenging Big Daddy. I stood watching far too long before I ran to grab the camera and took a couple of shots through the glass door. (You may want to click and enlarge to appreciate the look on his face.)

Big Daddy looks more agressive in this shot, almost ready to take on the squirrel.

He's backing away, as if re-thinking whether or not to take on the challenge.
While I was re-focusing to catch both of them, Big Daddy decided not to continue the standoff. He flew away and swooped into the woods. The gray squirrel seemed surprised by the sudden movement and he ran down the pole and away.
I have no idea how often such an encounter occurs and I don't know who was at the suet first. But it was a sight to behold! One of those moments you never forget and can't begin to describe to others.


The Birdlady said...

Oh my - what an exciting thing to see! I envy you that pileated - Every now and then I hear them, but have never seen one at this house...They are magnificent! (Can you imagine an ivory-billed?)

Kerri Farley said...

Absolutely Fabulous post! I have never seen one of these guys up close before. WOW!

Jayne said...

WOW Carolyn! What a standoff you witnessed! So cool that you caught at least the Big Daddy end of it. Thanks for sharing!!

mon@rch said...

Such a stunning experience! Bravo pictures!

Cicero Sings said...

One day we watched a squirrel and a female Pileated dance around a tree. It was a hoot! I first saw the Pileated flaring its wings and wondered what was going on ... until I saw the squirrel peak around ... then the dance began!

NCmountainwoman said...

Helen - No, I cannot begin to imagine what a sight the Ivory-billed would be. You may envy the Pileated, but think about this: we are too woodsy to have bluebirds. Somehow I don't think you would make that trade.

Kerri - Thanks. They are really amazing birds, especially when you hear their tropical call.

Jayne - I stood there frozen far too long. I am glad I got at least part of the standoff.

Monarch - Thanks. If I were a REAL photographer, I'd have shut my gaping mouth and grabbed the camera much sooner.

Cicero - Somehow the vision of the Pileated and squirrel dancing around that tree makes me think of "Peter and the Wolf." That's the music that accompanies the thought of the dancing pair.

Rurality said...

Same here - we've never been able to tempt pileateds to a suet feeder! Lucky you!