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
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
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.