"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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The Bird Book/Ain't Nature Natural?
Copyright © 2002 by Bill Scifres

The Bird Book

It was a little hard to believe, but there they were-- four of the seven woodpeckers we normally see in Indiana, right outside my double glass doors which look out over the river. 

The first thing I noticed was a pair of pileated woodpeckers searching for food on the main branches of an ash tree no more than 50 feet from my chair. That set me to scrambling to get a 300 mm lens on my trusty camera. 

But as I focused on the pileateds, my peripheral view brought both downy and hairy woodpeckers into focus on the same limb, and before long the mystery of what woodpecker was working on a knothole in my little hickory tree was solved. The culprit turned out to be a beautiful male  red-belly (often erroneously identified as a red headed woodpecker because the male of the species does have a red cap and nape). 

At one time I could see them all. 

It would have been great, I thought, if the flicker, seen the day before picking up suet dust on the ground beneath my suet feeder, had blessed me with his presence. But four of seven is not bad. 

Ain't Nature Natural?

A week or so before the woodpecker show, the same seat offered a great view of, first, a red-tailed hawk, supposedly feeding on a rather large bird he had caught at my neighbor's bird feeder and was consuming on the ground. 

But while I was watching the red-tail through binoculars (it was like he was sitting on my lap), a sharp-shinned hawk swished in and landed on an ash limb no more than 30 feet from my chair. I had tentatively identified the sharp-shin the day before when he made a wild, and unsuccessful pass at the birds at my ground feeding station. 

I was pleased to see the red-tail--we see him often. But confirming the presence of the sharp-shin also was gratifying. 

Now, all I had to do to complete the encounter with the two hawks was wait for the red-tail to finish his lunch and leave. Then I could identify the bird he had caught by the remaining feathers. 

Surprise! Surprise! The red-tail departed and I rushed out to the spot where he was lunching to find the rib cage (with stuffing) from somebody's Christmas din-din. 

I could not see any leftover gravy, but it shot my theory that the raptors--or at least the red-tail--subsist solely on fresh meat. 


All columns are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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