Apr 29 2010
Lately I’ve been getting an extra dose of bird life by walking through Schenley Park on my way to work. The route takes longer but I’m rewarded by glimpses of birds before I have to sit indoors.
The other day I had more than a glimpse. A male pileated woodpecker jumped and shouted among the trees below the Steve Falloon Trail, claiming the space as his own. All he needed was a female pileated to make his life complete, but none had noticed him so he made a lot of noise and flashed his wings to attract attention. He certainly got my attention. He was stunning.
Eventually he also got the attention of a blue jay who considered him a threat. The blue jay dove at the woodpecker with hardly a sound, though one of them make a “chuck” noise at each attack.
Pileated woodpeckers are much larger than blue jays (twice their size!) and they have long dangerous beaks. The blue jay didn’t think about that, but he should have. At one point he made a close pass at the woodpecker and the pileated closed his beak on the blue jay’s belly. The next thing I noticed, the woodpecker had a tuft of blue jay belly feathers in his bill.
The blue jay left quickly. I’m sure he agrees that that woodpecker was stunning.
(photo by Chuck Tague)