Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I almost missed this gorgeous Red-bellied Woodpecker, his mate, and their nesting cavity because I was in the grip of warbler-mania…

The last week of April and the first three weeks of May are one of the most exciting times on the Little Miami River Bike Trail. I never know what sort of neo-tropical migrant is going to show up along the river corridor, and I have to admit I am addicted to the thrill of the hunt. In a post a week or so ago, I talked about that surge of adrenalin that comes every time I spot a new spring migrant. It’s a powerful feeling and definitely drives my birding in the spring, so when I recently headed to the trail with warblers on the brain, I shouldn’t have been surprised at my nonchalant attitude toward one of my favorite birds, a Red-bellied Woodpecker.


As I tried to zoom in on a Chestnut-sided Warbler, this gorgeous fellow kept hovering around me competing for my attention, and I felt warbler-lust push a fuzzy “I don’t have time for this bird--I have to concentrate on the warbler” through my mind. But this loyal winter friend was persistent, and his gentle knocking on the wood and unusual tameness started chipping away at my warbler preoccupation. Slowly, with normal appreciation and love of him returning, I shifted my attention and started studying him.






I walked about five steps further to catch him on the other side of the tree, and there was the female...and next to her, their nesting cavity. I couldn’t believe it. I had almost missed this find because of a spring migrant adrenalin addiction!!




After the female went into the cavity, the male stayed around for a bit before leaving to hunt for food, his calls echoing through the trees as he flew off (almost, it seemed, chastising me for ignoring him, but then forgiving me for finally giving him the attention he deserved...).


32 comments:

Roy said...

These are absolutely brilliant images Kelly, very well done.

Shellmo said...

He was such a beautiful red bellied - hard to ignore this guy! Great shots! I love these birds - we have one that has made our cabin yard his territory - not sure where his female is nesting - but he perches himself on our deck railing to "Bark" at us sometimes!

Montanagirl said...

Kelly, that was such a nice narrative, and great photos of the Red-bellied! Thank you.

Uncommon Depth said...

Wow, that is one gorgeous looking woodpecker! What a beauty.

Chris said...

Hi Kelly,
Fortunately for us you did no miss it. Gorgeous shots. I love the one when he is close to his nest. Wonderful how they can squeeze in there, they are so big compare to the hole. Thanks for sharing that moment.

Bradley Myers said...

I am glad you didn't miss him, good photos and a wonderful site.

Laure Ferlita said...

I'm with Chris - fortunate for us you saw them! And too, I am surprised they can fit in that little bitty hole!

As to nearly missing him, I often wonder what we miss when we are so focused on the "one thing" upper most in our minds. No doubt a lot - glad he was persistent!!

Warren Baker said...

I know that feeling well Kelly! I end up not getting a photo of either bird though!
Smashing photo's today well done.

E said...

A beauty, great pics, very lovely and handsome bird. What a joy to see.
Congrats for this terrific catch, Kelita, wonderful! Hugs

holdingmoments said...

How could you contemplate ignoring such a beautiful bird? lol
He's a stunner, and I'm glad you did get pictures. What a smart red crown and neck he has.

Moria said...

Beautiful pictures. Thank you so much for sharing these!

Laubaine said...

tres bel oiseau , et tres bonne photo
magnifique :)

The Early Birder said...

A beautiful series of pics Kelly & worth the time you spent with the red-bellied. The warblers will have to wait another day then.

Little Brown Job said...

Fantasic images Kelly.

Ginnymo said...

What beautiful photos!! Those Woodpeckers are so pretty!! What great shots you got Kelly!!

Andor Marton said...

I've never saw such a handsome guy, how could you contemplate ignoring it. #4 is my favourite.
It's amazing how they can squeeze in thru that small hole.

Steve B said...

NICE, you even got the red belly. I've never seen this field mark myself.

Mary said...

I really think they are the prettiest of the woodpeckers! I know what you mean about getting focused on one thing and ignoring another...so easy to do! These shots are great and seeing his nest hole is perfect.

Vickie said...

Gorgeous images! How fortunate to have come upon the pair and their nest. Glad he persisted in getting your attention.

Rob Ripma said...

Awesome shots! I always love finding nest sites and being able to watch the birds come and go.

Nature As Is said...

Love the shots Kelly....I know what you mean when you go out of the day and you have a certain mission in your mind. I'm glad that you took the time to stop and notice this lovely beautiful opportunity. :)

Greener Bangalore said...

you know what Kelly?.....i am just feeling envious at your pics......what an amazing hands you have. All wonderful shots.......just loving these birdies.....and the greenery......all great....Thanks a ton for sharing....

Rajesh said...

Very beautiful snaps with lot of details. Looks like you have captured from every angle.

Kallen305 said...

What gorgeous photos Kelly. You captured that magnificent bird very well!

Jayne said...

They are such magnificent birds, aren't they? :c) So glad you got to see them and their nesting cavity.

Kelly said...

Roy...thank you!

Shelley...we have one in our backyard too. I think he barks when I'm out of seed. I usually jump to!

Montangirl...thank you. Definitely one of my favorite birds!

Uncommon...Thank you! He has beautiful markings. These are among my best photos ever.

Chris...Watching the female slip into the nesting cavity through that hole is amazing. It takes no effort at all! Thanks...

Bradley...thank you! I can't believe the warblers could lure me away from him!

Laure...thanks...I know. I still can't believe the cute, transient warblers lured me away from this regular.

Warren you made me laugh. Sometimes I miss both photos too. Thanks..

Thank you, Enita. Your comments always mean so much to me as you are such a fantastic photographer.

Keith...I have no idea. Lured away by the thrill of the chase and the infatuation of a tiny migrant. I feel so guilty!! :-D

Moria...thank you so much, and thank you for dropping by. I visited your blog and loved it!

Laubaine...merci! Thank you...

Frank...now the warblers may have to wait until the next season. When Matty and I went to the trail yesterday afternoon, they were almost non-existent! Thank you!

Paul, Ginny, Andor....thank you! I have no idea, Andor, how I could let those little warblers lead me astray!! I really like #4 also (my best photos ever).

Steve...thanks. Love that red belly (but your really have to look for it!)

Mary..I do too....focus (it's good...and sometimes bad).

Vickie...thanks! Me too...such an opportunity probably never to be repeated.

Rob...thanks....I know. A cardinal lead me to his nest yesterday, and it was so exciting!

Roberta...thank you. I'm glad too....all it takes is slowing down and listening, I guess!

Greener...thank you so much! I was so lucky to look up and pay attention. After my mind slowed down, I was able to see all the beauty around me...not just the tiny warblers.

Rajesh...thank you. I did walk all around that tree! (Because he kept moving!)

Kim and Jayne...thank you. I've been back to visit, but I couldn't find it the first two times back. The third, there were no birds. I'm going to search it out again.

Tutta la Storia said...

FABULOUS images! Truly! We have a male visiting us lately--he is one of our new favorites--but pretty elusive, he seems to always know right when I am about to snap his photo!

Chandramouli S said...

Lovely Photos, Kelly! Know what? Yesterday morning, I think I spotted a woodpecker couple in my terrace. I'll soon publish the post on them. Hope you can help identify it.

JRandSue said...

Kelly well done brilliant capture.
Outstanding Images.
John.

Chris Petrak said...

Whoa - you can see his red belly!! I haven't seen that on my neighborhood pair yet. Name comes from when birding gear was a shotgun and the "watcher" could hold the bird in hand - bit fatal way of birding! Great photos!

Kelly said...

Tutta...thanks. If I hadn't have been standing just under his nesting cavity I doubt he would have been so cooperative!

Chandramouli...thank you! I'll be by to check it out!

John...thank you very much!!

Kelly said...

Chris....thank you! I love seeing the red belly that's usually not visible....and yikes to that time. Birding could have been hazardous to the health back when Audubon was tramping around with gun in hand instead of binocs. Thank goodness Peterson came along with his guide!