Springing through the dandelions, I spotted a touch of red. There was no mistake that I was watching a pileated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus). Everything from its sharp sound to its considerable size to its signature red crest made it an easy bird to identify.
I usually see these large woodpeckers high up in the trees blasting enormous holes into the wood as they search for insects. This time, a male (the red stripe below the eye is an indicator) was digging at the roots of two felled maple tree stumps as I pulled in the driveway. I parked my car and stayed out of sight as I went into the house to get my camera. I sneaked back to the driveway and stuck my camera lens out from behind my car. The big bird bounced back and forth over the 30-foot space between the stumps a few times taking advantage of the sunshine and the grubs.
It took a few tries, but I got the shot. I wanted to show its zygodactyl feet – toes in pairs with two forward and two backward – that are typical of woodpeckers as it hopped across my lawn.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The photo above was chosen as the top submission for Wild View’s Red Pursuits assignment. Congratulations! Enter our current Wild View assignment – Winter Ends and Spring Begins.
Pentax K-1, Pentax DA 300mm Lens