We were driving home from doing some Sunday shopping in Manchester, Vermont when a flash of red caught my eye. By the size alone, I figured it was a pileated woodpecker. I take great joy in seeing animals in their habit — foxes, pheasants, turkeys, deer, coyotes, herons, eagles, moose — the more rare the sighting, the better the experience.
I’d only seen one other pileated woodpecker in the last year or so. Right after I put my dog down, this striking bird was waiting for me in a tree outside the vet’s office to lift my sunken spirit.
Hoping for a better look, I hit the brakes and backed the car up the road (there’s not much traffic in Vermont). Of course, I flushed him from his perch, but I caught a glimpse of him flying away, his white underwing making him distinct. In the passenger seat, Karin was unable to get a look at the bird, so when we arrived home, I pulled out the Sibley Field Guide to Birds to show her a picture.
Next to the image of birds in the book are the descriptions to help you identify them in the wild. For many species of birds, you have to look very closely to correctly identify the bird. Often only a slight variation in color or bill-size separates species.
However, this is not the case with the pileated woodpecker. Next to its image, there was one word used to describe its appearance:
Cool word, right?
Got me to thinking…
I want to go through life like the pileated woodpecker.