Tuesday, June 29, 2010

No Regrets - Great Egret

POW! A Great egret hits the water for a fish or frog strike.

A member of the heron family, the Great egret or Common egret, is about three feet tall, slightly shorter than its cousin, the Great Blue Heron. It is easily distinguished from the Snowy egret by its black feet. Snowies have yellow feet. Like all herons, Great egrets fly with their necks retracted. Ibis and storks fly with their necks extended. We have ibises in Maine, but not storks. Great egrets are common along the southeastern seaboard of the United States, but are migratory in Maine.
This Great egret was fishing on the north end of Center Pond in Phippsburg today. The first time I ever saw one of these was in North Bath on the upper reaches of the New Meadows River. The New Meadows is actually a tidal inlet and not a river at all. I had a house there which is where I raised my children. I was, in fact, about thirteen months pregnant with my daughter when I saw my first Great egret. My parents were visiting and we were all having lunch out on the deck. Someone shouted, "Look! What's that huge white bird over there?" I didn't know what it was, but I responded "Well, look at me! Obviously, it's The Stork!" That was twenty-four years ago, almost to the day. My mother gave me a gift of my first birding field guide. I still have The Audubon Society Field Guide To North American Birds, Eastern Region with my mother's inscription in the front. My mother hasn't spoken to me since 1993, but I've still got the field guide and every time I see a Great egret, I think of my mother and that day. It was probably one of the last times that we had lunch together. It's a long story why we don't talk anymore. Every family has something. That's what people say to me. I don't have any guilt about why we don't speak, but I do have regrets. I regret that my mother doesn't know me as an accomplished photographer and a reasonably good birder, thanks in part to her field guide gift. I regret that one day, someone of us will die before this is all set right. I regret that for now, and perhaps forever, the words "every family has something," are the best that we can do. That's not really good enough, but it has to do, and that, I regret.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Altered Eagle - Bunged Up Bald Eagle

Back in May, I took these photographs of a second year Bald eagle with a fouled up fowl leg. See how the left leg is hanging down? It should be tucked up close to the body like its other leg. The good news is that it was fishing and successfully. I took the photographs in Warren, Maine during the Alewife run. The eagle was catching plenty of Alewives and competing with Ospreys and assorted gulls. You could think of that as the Special Olympics for eagles. No fishy, no livey or something like that. I hope it makes it and wins the gold. If it does, would that make it a Golden eagle? No, just bald and lucky. I know quite a few guys who wish they could say the same. If only they would drop the comb-overs maybe they'd get lucky, too. Bald ain't all bad. Posted by Picasa

Friday, June 25, 2010

For Mature Audiences Only - Common Atlantic Eider

These Common eider hens and chicks are so cute that you'd be tempted to take one home for a pet, like an Easter chick without the pink dye. These are specifically, Common Atlantic eiders because they are on the reflecting pool of the Washington Monument. Now look, be serious. They are on the Atlantic ocean. Every spring, starting in May, we get flotillas of them feeding along the rocky shore line and resting on the rocks. The hens make a mumbling sound which makes us think of old men playing chess in Central Park. The chicks peep-peep-peep like most chicks do. We can even hear them at night because they sit up on the rocks in the dark. Eiders are a big, sea duck. Their soft feathers are of 'eider down' fame, though today most pillows and quilts are stuffed with farm raised ducks and geese. Within barely hours of hatching, the chicks take to the water where they learn to dive immediately. Diving is how they get crustaceans from the bottom and also how they stay safe. When airborne predators show up, the chicks bunch together with the hens and dive. The mumbling and peeping are delightful to hear and we look forward to the chicks first appearances every year. In our neighborhood, we call each other up on first sighting, "The chicks are here!" But from there on out, it gets really ugly.

We also have a pair of gulls residing on our pier. They are a mated pair and like all living things, they must eat too (this is the point where you'll want to get the kids and the faint of heart out of the room). They are very fond of eider chicks. By yesterday, a brood of thirteen eider chicks born a week ago, had dwindled to five as they were picked off by gulls and eagles. Bald eagles like them also, but they aren't as good at snagging them as the gulls are. When the gulls or an eagle cruises around, the hens usher the chicks into a tight bunch. If they are on the rocks, they all take to the water and rush away from the shore so they can dive. The hens stretch their necks in the air, heads raised issuing alarm calls. Two days running I saw the gulls grab chicks. They swooped, grabbed then flew off to flail their prizes on the rocks while the hens screamed. As soon as it's over, everybody goes back to their business like nothing happened. It's a wretched, natural drama that plays out every year and begs the question "Do you have any Grey Poupon?"

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Not In My Backyard - Wood Duck & Canada Goslings

A few weeks ago, I had noticed these Canada geese swimming in a private pond. The youngsters were at the sable-brown powder puff stage. I did take photos, but nothing I was really satisfied with as I couldn't get close enough.  Each time I drove by the pond, I gazed longingly toward the geese wishing I could get closer. I coveted that pond and the birds it hosted. The rushes on the pond edge are almost six feet tall now, a foot taller than I am; shooting through the rushes was a definite challenge. Between the pond and I was also a broad expanse of lawn. There was no way of sneaking up on anyone. Remembering what they taught me at Quanitco, I did think I could lie down on my belly and slither like a snake, camera aloft. However, whenever I went by, I was never in my bathrobe, so I never had on the right outfit for that maneuver. Plus, the home owner would probably have had a problem with that. I often saw fresh laundry on the line there, cars moved around and the grass unfailingly mowed, sure signs of occupancy. Then one day, the home owner himself was out by the pond edge throwing cracked corn to the geese! I leaped from my car and scampered across his lawn to introduce myself and tell him how much I enjoyed his pond and all the wildlife it supported. I admired his brilliantly green lawn. "You must really work at that lawn. It's so lush and green! My husband really loves good grass," I said, ingratiating myself. Men always like to hear that they've got a great lawn; he was  in fact, very pleased. He sheepishly admitted that he shouldn't feed the geese and ducks, but couldn't help himself. He told me he had dug the pond when he built his house in 1970. Clearly, he was a man who appreciated do-it-yourself initiative. He invited me to come sit by the pond any time I wanted to and for as long as I wished. He even invited me to use some of his lawn furniture. "Sure! Take a load off! Sit right there under that pine in the shade if you want to. Me and the misses don't mind one bit. Nice someone likes it."
      Walking back to my car, I noticed that the emerald green lawn was actually the work of the geese as much as the home owner. It was a mine field of fertilizing bird bombs the size of Cuban cigars! In spite of trying to avoid them, I stepped into a few which stuck like two part epoxy to my shoe. Knowing that my new found pond pal would have been watching me return to my car, I had to ignore the poo goo so it didn't look like I disapproved. Having used my good 'man material' by blowing smoke about his lovely lawn would have been completely waisted had I let out a squealing "Eeeeeeeeeeuuuuuuuuu!" while doing a grand Pas Du Chat. I decided that having Canada geese in my yard wouldn't be so great. Like deer and grandchildren, they are better appreciated in someone else's yard. 
There are five of these young geese. Their adult feathers are developed enough that you can definitely tell they are Canada geese. These geese are quite habituated to humans and were not shy about being near me. The parents did hiss at me a few times which was a little nerve wracking. A Canada goose standing on the ground is about at eye level to me.

Amongst the Mallards in the pond was this divine Wood Duck in all of his colorful glory. He was definitely wild and would have spooked to flight very quickly if I hadn't been stealthy.

I could not get enough of photographing them, either. Maybe I will have to take up my new friend's offer of the lawn chair.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Cutest Thing Of All Time - Bambi's Got Nothin' On Me!

It was so hot today that this deer was panting!
It was eighty-two today and so humid you could have steamed cabbage on the hood of my car. While I was Weeding For Dollars, the sweat was just pouring from me, running into my eyes, down my back and other places that no one wants to know anything at all about. Well, except probably my husband who is on the payroll for that kind of interest. Everything was making me itch, grass, dirt, bugs, my hair, my clothes, everything! We have a type of mosquito here that folks call 'Marsh Mosquitoes.' I don't know what species they actually are, but I can tell you they bite with a vengeance. Even though they are smaller than other kinds of 'squitoes,' they pack a mean, painful wallop when they bite. This is accentuated by heat and the salt in sweat. It's also Horse fly season. For those of you from 'away,' those are biting flies. I don't know if they are called Horse flies because they annoy horses, or if it's because they are so huge. You know, big as a horse. Probably somebody from away said they were "as big as a house," which would make sense. That got changed over time to "big as a horse," because in Maine we add 'Rs' to most words that don't have them and remove the Rs from words that should have them. You get the idear. They are impossible to repel and difficult to kill. You have to actually let one start to bite you so that it's distracted, then slap the hell out of it from behind so it doesn't see your hand coming. If you are lucky and hit it, what is the hand of doom for the Horse fly also leaves a smart slap on your ownself. You can see why some people go nuts in these situations and run, screaming into the woods never to be heard from again. I've been driven near to that more than a few times myself. Today though, instead of insanity, I decided to go to Popham Beach after my dues had been paid at the end of my trusty garden trowel. My intention was to take photographs of the Common terns and maybe some Osprey. Scanning the skies, I didn't see enough action to bother getting out of my car though and there wasn't any place left to park, either. So, I headed home, despondent and still itching. Before the state park entrance, there is a huge salt marsh on both sides of the road. At a great distance across the marsh, I could see a brown lump. At first, I thought it was a Red fox. When I pulled the car over, I could see that it was a White-tailed deer fawn. It was about an eight of a mile away which meant I couldn't get very good photographs. So, there was nothing to do but head out across the marsh. In all my life of travelling the road through that marsh, I have only ever seen someone out there once. That was duck hunters in February. At least, I had rubber shoes on for gardening. This may have been part of my heat intolerance since my poor dogs were just a boilin' in there, thus the reference earlier to steamed cabbage. But, that did save me from getting soaked. I had to go a long way out there and slowly so as not to spook the little darling deer. Every few yards, I would step into a mud hole and rile up the stench of heated, rotting vegetation. At some point, the fawn laid down in the grass. It was so camouflaged that it was nearly impossible to see it and a couple of times, I lost it completely. Eventually, I was stopped by the channel. I stood there for nearly an hour waiting for Bambi to stand up, hoping and praying that she would. All the while, I had to be still. This made me a prime, juicy target for the voracious mosquitoes and Horse flies. The Green Heads, another biting monster of a fly, also joined the party. Since I was nearly up to my ass in grass, I was also very worried about ticks. And, do you think I was smart enough to be wearing a hat for this outing in Phippsburg's answer to the Sahara Desert? Oh, no. Of course not. I could only have been more suitably attired for this gig had I been wearing my bathrobe. I nearly gave up when finally the fawn stood up and looked right at me. I couldn't have been more thrilled! Now, I must go call a plastic surgeon for some skin grafting for my third degree sunburn and find a pair of tweezers. Don't ask for what. 

Just in case you thought I was joshin' ya, do you see a deer in here? I used to love Highlights magazine when I was a kid. This is the kind of 'quiz' they used to have. Believe me, there is a deer in there.
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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Give Me The Night Life! The Mickey Mouse Stalker: Black-Crowned Night Heron

This Black-crowned Night Heron is a good example of why it sometimes pays to be a late in the day birder, as I am. It's not a bird one would be likely to see in the middle of the day, but rather at night, as its moniker suggests. It's mostly nocturnal, like me. After all the other birds have gone to bed and said their prayers, this one starts hunting. It hangs around in shallow ponds, standing for long periods waiting to skewer frogs and fish. The Black-crowned Night heron is about twenty-five inches tall and semi-migratory. It generally needs open water for fishing, so from here, they go to the southeastern seaboard for the winter. This one lives in an alder swamp right near our house. The body of water is no more than a tangled mess of growth host to mosquitoes and barely noticeable unless one is a birder. This bird is sporting its breeding plumage. See that natty white plume rakishly worn on its head? Like a lot of herons, this guy nests in colonies in trees with other waders, like Snowy egrets. They aren't quite as sociable as the other waders, though and will usually nest on the periphery of the colony. From that vantage point, they also scout out chicks in other nests in the colony for a nighttime 'fridge' raid. That's right: they readily eat offspring of other birds, especially their housing project neighbors, gulls and terns. Sometimes, they can been seen in meadows where there are lots of rodents, like voles. Night-herons will stalk Mickey Mouse, too! Nonetheless, I think they are pretty cool to look at even though they are barfly thugs of the night.

For more information about Black-crowned Night Herons, click here:

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Mill - Red Fox, Flowers, Fungus & More

Where I take the eagle's nest photographs is a lumber mill which dates back to 1801. It's a family operation and has been in the same family since it started. The lumber for the flooring in our house came from this mill. Though still operational today, it's not as busy as it was back in the days of shipbuilding in Bath. The mill is on Winnegance Bay on the Kennebec River in Phippsburg. It sits on a point of land with the bay on the west side and a large, shallow marsh on the east. I have referred to it as 'The Magnificent Acre' in previous writings, though it is well more than a single acre of land. It's private property, but the land owner is an old acquaintance of my husband's and I've come to know him quite well myself through my wildlife photography adventures. I have posted photographs of a Woodchuck, snakes, foxes, flowers and loads of birds ranging from eagles to Pileated woodpeckers, wading birds and warblers, big and small all from this same parcel of land. The abundance of diverse flora and fauna  really is impressive. I am surprised at the numbers of people who go there to buy lumber who never notice a thing as huge and significant as the eagle's nest directly above them. Early one morning, I encountered a man there who had been scouring the woods for mushrooms. He returned to his car, where his Chihuahua was sleeping, with a fistful of Chantrelles or "Chicken Of The Woods," as some call them. He was secretive about his handful of delicacies, furtively looking downward and way, though he eyed the woods from where he had come, as he said "Yes, yes, Chantrells. I know a place up there..........." Reflexively, he cupped his hand over his find. He had not noticed the eagle's nest. There is a warehouse where lumber is stored and some heavy equipment. There's a lot of human activity, but the critters don't seem phased by any of it. The eagle stares down while the fox kits romp around on the log piles and snakes snooze on beds of reeds.  
(I nearly stepped on this Garter snake which was resting on the broken pieces of last year's Cat-O-Nine Tails.)

Canada Geese fly and light on Winnegance Bay and n the march on the east side. I've never seen other kinds of geese with them, but I always look to be sure. One day, I'll see something besides Canadas, I'm sure of it.
There are lots of wildflowers. This is Sweet flag or Bog iris. These flowers are on the very edge of the bay which is heavily salt mixed from the incoming tides. This shows that this type of iris is very salt tolerant.
This fox kit is one of the ones I posted about a month ago, now much larger. I saw its mother leap like a Gazelle over grasses into the brush right after I took this photo of her offspring.

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

"Mom! He's Shoving Me!" Bald Eagle Babies

This is a quick update on the status of the eagle's nest I've been watching here in The Burg. These are the youngsters. I thought there was only one before, but obviously, there are at least two. They are not very active. I waited for three hours for these shots. The parent sat as you see it on that branch next to the nest and never moved other than to preen a little, scratch and yawn. I was there in the morning hoping that feeding would be going on, but nothing happened. As the hours ground by, the eaglets jockied for positions in the nest. They vocalized a whiny, thin noise that sounded like two kids whining to their mom, "He's touching me! He's poking me! Mom, make him stop!" The other would say in its defense, "No fair! He spit on me first!" And on it would go until mother finally would take off so as not to have to listen to it anymore. We would think she was soaring off to catch a lively salmon, big silvery bass or a rabbit, but actually, she'd just be going for time out from the brats. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Brood Parasitism - "Idi, Is That You?"

I'm not a classically 'wifely' sort of person. I'm not a doter nor coddler of children nor men, though there are some I love intensely. As an example: I don't make lunches. On occasion, I do, but those are out of the ordinary events. Lunch is not to be expected from me as a regularly occurring domestic happening. When David goes to work for the day, I do not send him off with a lunch box filled with tenderly constructed, crustless sandwiches, warm cookies and a cold drink followed by a lipstick smack to his cheek. If asked to produce lunch, I turn into the Queen Of Hearts and am apt to shriek "Off with their heads!" When you are at my house, If you want lunch, you are on your own. Oh, and by the way, you could make me a sandwich while you're at it.
However, a few days ago, I broke out of my usual mold and took lunch to my husband where he was working. I was rewarded for my unusual wifely attentions with this Chipping sparrow feeding a new fledgling. The 'Chippie' was frantically rushing back and forth to the chick with beakfuls of insects. The chick chirped wildly when the parent arrived, rushing to her with it's great gaping maw, demanding food. The Chippie seemed to be trying to lead the chick further and further into the woods.
     This baby bird could not quite fly or just wasn't bothering to try. It sat like a moribund lump between feedings, looking as if it might faint from hunger. Several times, the 'mother' (I can't swear that the Chipping sparrow was female) seemed to be trying to escape from the chick, which repeatedly ran after her when she was done shoving insects into its cake hole. The chick's appetite was to say the least, voracious.
     I didn't see or hear any other chicks around. There wasn't time between feedings of this chow hound to have tended to others had there been any in a nest somewhere or elsewhere on the ground. Then, I noticed that the chick was at least twice the size of the parent bird and lacked any marking consistent with the parent. Then, it dawned on me: I was witnessing brood parasitism! Suddenly, what seemed before to be a wretched, defenseless chick became an odious mass of flesh, Jabba The Hutt of birds! The chick is not the offspring of the Chipping sparrow, but rather that of a Brown-headed cowbird! The poor little sparrow was being run ragged by her adoptive child. I could imagine what it would be like to have adopted an infant, a helpless baby that one would learn to love and adore only to have it turn out to be Idi Amin Dada! He was someone's baby boy once before he grew up to be a military dictator who slaughtered nearly half a million people. Even Jabba The Hutt must have had a mother.
Chipping sparrows like grassy, woodland margins. They are about five inches from beak tip to tail. They are very common. They are sometimes called "Hairbirds," because they like using hair to line their nests. Some say they have seen them pulling the fur from sleeping dogs for this purpose. After you brush your own hair, if you clean the brush outdoors and leave your hair, it may very well wind up in a Chipping sparrow nest. Little Idi Amin will find it very comfy. Chipping sparrows are semi-migratory. From the far north, they move to slightly warmer places for the winter, but they don't go far. They like Florida and the Carolinas. In spring and fall during migration, their call can be heard at night as they fly overhead in the dark.
The Idi Amin Dada of birds, the Brown-headed cowbird

Thanks to Wikipedia, eNature.com, allaboutbirds.com and whatbird.com for some of the information.
External links for more information:

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Uncommonly Common - Common Yellowthroat

Today, while I was supposed be folding laundry and paying bills to make use of a rainy indoor day, I was stalking birds. If you don't think it was wet, look at these photos. You'll see the water dripping from the Spruce needles. I was concentrating on a fledgling Chipping sparrow whose parent was feeding it. I was not moving, in spite of the rain because I wanted the adult Chippie to come along so I could photograph the feeding (I was successful and will post that later). In the mean time, this Common Yellowthroat warbler almost landed in my lap. That will give you an idea of how still I had been and for how long. Black flies like this same kind of weather,too. I had to let them bite me. They especially like going for the area around the eyes. So, now I look like a boxer on the wrong end of a hard right-left combo punch. Maybe I could borrow a mask from one of these little guys. Common Yellowthroats are just that: common. However, they are not so often seen because they are secretive and favor thick brushy areas. They are insect eaters and prolific breeders. The females are yellowish all over and don't have the black head nor this snazzy mask. I've seen male Yellowthroats before, but never this close. It was only about fifteen feet from my face! This New World wood warbler is migratory wintering in Central and South America. Seems like there should be more to say about a little bird that's this flashy but that's really all there is to it. Now, I must conduct a thorough tick check as I think I feel something crawling on me inside my clothes. David is not home, so he is neither the source of the sensation nor the solution.

Thanks to David Allen Sibley, The Sibley Guide To Birds, Wikipedia and allaboutbirds.com for some of the information.
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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Departure Day- American Robin & Pileated Woodpeckers

Pileated woodpeckers have a long, thick tongue for licking up the insects that flee from the holes they hammer out. In the top and bottom left photos, the red cheek stripe of the male is evident.
I had speculated that the young Pileated woodpeckers were about to leave the nest and I was correct. When last I saw them, they were doing a little practice drumming on the rim of the hole, as you can see in the bottom right photo. The little girl has her tongue out on the edge to lick up any insects which may have come out after she banged on the wood. Of course, this was just practice as little to nothing lives in a chemically treated telephone pole. They were also calling a watered down version of the classic "Kee-kee-kee-kuk-kuk" and a rasping hiss which was more childlike sounding to me. Their nest cavity was on Hermit Island where all the campsites are (I can tell you that now that it is no longer a nest cavity but just an empty hole). The wee woodpeckers will stay with their parents all summer learning to find food. They will be hungry, but not efficient at finding eats. So, they will be pounding a lot more holes than the adults need to. The campers will hear them knocking with what sounds like a hammer drumming on wood all summer starting early in the morning. "Knock-knock-knock-knock! Get up!" They left the nest cavity sometime around lunchtime yesterday.

At our house, across Small Point Harbor from where that action was taking place, an American robin couple had a nest in the Baltic ivy on the side of our house by the front door. For about a month, I had been watching the parents slipping in and out of the ivy until I could identify where the nest was. One day, they picked up their pace and were energetically carrying food with them. I knew they had gone from sitting on eggs to feeding chicks. In a few days, I could hear the little rascals, too. I had expected that any day now, there would be silence because they, too would be leaving home. And sure enough! I heard this tremendous racket of alarm calling out in the yard. I grabbed the camera and went to investigate. Our dog, Perry was sitting on the lawn looking at this young robin. He had not touched it, but the parents were raising the roof yelling at him and swooping around him. He seemed quite confused and uncertain about all the noise. He is a Shiba inu. They were bred to flush birds from bushes, but I don't imagine that he would ever have been very good at that. He was curious about the little bird, but not in a 'lunch menu' sort of way. I took him into the house, then went back to watch the little one. Sure enough, he was able to fly a few feet on his own. Very much the dawdler, he took his time hopping and flying toward the garden. He disappeared and I saw his Dad reunite  with him in the woods. The nest is silent, now. I don't know if he was the only one or if the others managed to slip away undetected. That would certainly be better if they just got up in the middle of the night, packed a light suitcase leaving a note in the kitchen before disappearing.

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Monday, June 7, 2010

Pileated Paradise- Woodpecker Espionage

One of my sources tipped me off to this Pileated Woodpecker nest. I went there at 7:30 this morning and as many of you know, I'm not a morning person. I'm not a grumpy person in the morning; I'm just slow to start. I am awake between 6:30 and 7, but I frequently don't get out of my bathrobe until after ten. As a gardener, photographer, and birder, this poses numerous challenges. Many of my preferred subjects have left the fields, forests and fens for the mall by the time I'm ready to engage. Also, the light is usually better in the morning for some things, like landscapes and close ups of flowers. I can assure you, too that the later it gets in the day the hotter it gets which makes gardening more rigorous than it might otherwise be. But, much as I don't love the early hours, I do love a challenge. Bring on the heat of the day, the mosquitoes, the already well fed birds and beasts and crumby lighting! I'm your girl. The reasons I went so early today were two-fold. One reason was that I had an appointment with a service person at my house and had to beat them back to my place. The other reason, I'm not terribly ashamed to admit, was because I  fully intended to trespass to get these images. Stealth would hopefully serve where discretion clearly would not. I am discreet enough that I'm not going to say where this was, but not so decent a person that I would have stayed home rather than lurk around at the crack of dawn behind someone's outbuilding. Solid espionage requires calculated risk and a low moral standard, or at least, a very skewed moral standard. Perhaps, a double moral standard, which is no moral standard at all. Did you follow that? That is going to be my argument in court, should I get caught. My plan is that it will be so confusing that the judge will demand, "Counselors, approach the bench!" Since I'll be defending myself, that will be me. The judge will be in a hopeless bind when he suggests to me  that I try a psychiatric defense. I'm going to pull wildly at my own hair and while hopping up and down bellow "Blame the woodpeckers!"
And who will be able to blame me after they see these photos, my defense exhibits? Look how cute they are! There are three of them. Pileateds usually have between three and five eggs. The chicks are developed enough, that I can see at least one of them is male. His little red cheeks are beginning to show.
I did not see the male, only this female feeding them. I learned the identification differences between males and females after my previous Pileated post where I erred about the gender. She does not have red cheeks. Neither do I, as I am without shame. Pileated woodpeckers only use the nest cavity, excavated by the male in April, for one season. Then, they abandon it. The chicks fledge about a month after hatching. I'm guessing they aren't too far from leaving. So, for me, it was now or never. Both parents raise the young. They feed them insects and especially like Carpenter ants. The bad news is that I only saw two chicks poke out of the hole for feeding. That does not bode well for the less aggressive of the bunch. Two of them will grow up to be trespassers; one will not.

 Thanks to  Wikipedia for some of the information. Some of it, I made up, honest, Your Honor.

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