Two days ago, I visited a small garden that is near the Western cafe. When I walked into the garden, I saw a friend who lives at the ashram. For years, devotees have brought her injured or abandoned birds that they have found. She nurses the birds back to health and then frees them. On that day, she was interacting with a pond heron. I was intrigued.
The “hole” towards the back of his head is his ear.
On Friday, I spent time working in our Greenbelt restoration site. As I turned to go back home, I heard a loud sound. It took a moment for me to figure out what it was. When I looked ahead of me, I saw a woodpecker pecking at a dead tree. It was unlike any woodpecker I’ve ever seen. One of the remarkable things about it was that it looked huge.
I used the burst setting on my phone camera and was able to capture a shot of it in the action of pecking.
I wish I had thought to take a video so you could hear the loud sound it made when it was pecking.
Later, I learned that it was a Pileated woodpecker. which is similar in size to a crow. One of their most notable features is their bright red crest. The males have a red streak on their cheek, so the one I saw must have been a female.
These birds are often found around dead trees, foraging for carpenter ants. They are known for the triangle shape holes they create in trees, holes that become habitat to “swifts, owls, ducks, bats, and pine martens.”
Pileated woodpeckers apparently have bright white underwings. I hope that someday I have the opportunity to see one in flight!
On the morning I arrived in Amritapuri, I looked out the window of my flat and saw two small birds sitting together in a nearby palm tree. They looked like fluffy baby birds although were not tiny. I tried to take a photo but could not get the camera to zoom close enough.
Early the next morning, I saw the same, or similar, birds in the tree. They were usually perched side-by-side but occasionally they separated. This time, I could snap close up photos.
The birds groomed each other. At times, they were so close that if I hadn’t known better I would have thought there was only one bird in the tree.
At one point, one of them started to open its wings…
… but then tucked them in again.
Then they both flew away. Their wings were pure white and way bigger than I had thought. I believed I had been able to capture a photo of the birds in flight, but when I looked all that was on my camera was a picture of the empty tree!
At least I have the vision of their beautiful wings etched in my memory.
To view the previous posts in this series click here.