Monday, October 18, 2010
One day, many years ago, I walked through some woods and heard, to my great surprise, the call of a cartoon character from my childhood, Woody Woodpecker. I followed the ear-shattering sound and beheld two enormous birds flying from tree to tree and calling loudly to one another. At home I found it was easy to identify them as Pileated woodpeckers (Dryocopus pileatus), which are described at All About Birds as being nearly as large as a crow. They seem bigger to me but I've never had the opportunity to compare the two species side by side or to measure. There seems to be some question as to whether Woody, the cartoon woodpecker, was modeled after Pileated or Acorn woodpeckers. Julie Zickefoose, an naturalist and artist discusses this further at NPR.
More recently I came upon a male Pileated excavating in a small oak along a busy trail at Howarth Park. He worked silently and diligently, hacking away at a small black oak tree. I pulled off to the side of the trail and sketched for about 20 minutes before he took off. Soon after, I packed up and walked on toward some California ground squirrels and excitement for my canine companion.
More about the actual woodpecker:
Wild Bird WatchingPileated Woodpecker Central
All About Birds
...and the animated woodpecker:
Don Markenstein's Toonopedia