As I stepped out on my balcony to get a wiff of that cool, crisp fall air, I heard a familiar sound. It was a Pileated Woodpecker, one of my favorite birds, my 'Spark' bird, the one that got me interested in birding over 27 years ago. As I scanned the ground where the woodpecker was, I catch a glimpse of another one! Two Pileated Peckers foraging for ants most likely. Ants are the main diet of these woodpeckers. I ran to get my binoculars and camera to try and get some footage of these awesome birds. When I got back, I noticed there was a third bird a few trees away from the other two. When I took a break from the binoculars, I saw a fourth woodpecker fly on to the scene! Likely an entire family! And to top that off, there was also a Northern Flicker hanging with the gang of Pileated.
I took four different videos I will share. Pardon the shakiness. While I was videoing the birds, my son let the darn cat, Stanley Oliver outside. Immediately he ran over next door and started stalking my lovely woodpecker family! OMG, I would be devastated if he was to get one. I did send my son out to get him when he proceeded to get too close to them.
After all the excitement of the four, well five woodpeckers, I went inside to download my videos. Not long after that, I went back out on the balcony when I heard some birds calling back and forth. For a quick second, I thought the Pileateds were back, but the sound wasn't quite right. Then I thought perhaps it could be a Belted Kingfisher, they have an interesting call like what I was hearing. I scanned the trees, over and over, looking for any movement. Back and forth the birds were chatting with each other. It took quite a while for me to finally see one of them when it flew to another tree. I got the binoculars, but it was difficult to see, and mostly was hanging out behind a bunch of pine needles, so I couldn't see it clearly. I snapped a couple of photos, thinking I might be able to zoom in on the computer and see better. The photos weren't clear either, as the pine needles were in the way. So I get out my trusty iPhone iBird app and do a search based on the criteria I do know. Came up with three possibilities, an American Kestrel, which I knew it was too big. A Sharp-shinned Hawk, which I have seen here once before, and a Merlin, which I have never seen. Not knowing which of the two it was, I listened to the call of both birds. Sure enough, it was not the Sharp-shinned, but indeed it was the Merlin! A life bird for me!
|A Shy Merlin hiding|