Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spring in the Virginia Woods

In the late morning yesterday, I sat outside on our back deck reading the newspaper, happy it was warm enough to do so. The birds were singing and the woodpeckers pecking up a storm. I put my paper down and closed my eyes, listening and identifying the bird sounds but then stopped, just enjoying the symphony. I then thought about their location--first the cardinals at 12:00, then the chickadees up close in a bush, the tufted titmouses at 10:00, the juncoes and white breasted sparrows on the ground, and the finches everywhere with their lovely songs. In the background, adding the percussion sounds, were all the drumming woodpeckers: the red bellied, downy, and sapsucker.

Then suddenly as if on cue, I heard the unmistakable loud drumming of the pileated woodpecker and then his call which sounds like a tropical bird.

Northern Flicker (March 24, 2009)

Just about that time, I saw a Northern Flicker, another very large woodpecker looking for insects on the ground and then hopping onto this tree so I could catch him with my camera.

You won't believe it but just as I was the writing this post, the Pileated Woodpecker was on a tree outside my window. I grabbed the camera and took this photo---liveblogging spring!

March 24, 2009

The Pileated Woodpecker is the largest we have, about the size of a crow, 16.5 inches long with a 29" wing span. It requires very mature forests so it is vulnerable to development but seems to be thriving on our land.

The Pileated Woodpecker is the inspiration for Woody the Woodpecker character in the cartoon (if you knew that, you are probably as old as me).

Other unmistakable signs of spring are the butterflies. The tiny spring azure and white sulphur butterlifes emerged from cocoons on Sunday and were flying along with the mourning cloak and anglewing butterflies that emerged from hibernation a week ago.

Spring Beauty (March 22, 2009)

On Sunday, I also saw the first native wildflower, Spring Beauty. I spotted it only because I was bent over pulling out the multi-flora rose (a much maligned alien shrub). You can see from my photo how small it is and so easily overlooked.


  1. Very nice post. Welcome spring indeed.

  2. NCmountainwoman--now, it's turned cold and rainy. But, once it warms up again, spring will be in full force.

  3. Thats great..live photo blogging..I think that Piliated just wanted to be featured in your post.

  4. dAwN--yeah, the pileated did look like he was checking things out around our house. I think all the birds at the feeder attract him.

  5. Your signs of spring are beautiful! I love that little flower and how nice it was for the woodpecker to find you. :)

  6. Congratulations on your Pileated!!!