My white whale is a gray woodpecker

I am a determined hunter. Always on the lookout for my quarry I have developed a keen sense for his presence.  And when he is near I spring into action with the lightening fast reflexes of a Ninja warrior. Always, my prey has managed to escape me. But this morning my luck changed.

This morning, I got him:

photo 3Or her, I’m not sure which.

He first captured my attention almost two years ago. The feeder outside my kitchen window has always attracted a myriad of birds, some quite beautiful and rare, but one day I was going about my business and suddenly there he was; larger than the others with a striped and almost herringbone pattern to his feathers and a bright vermillion head.  Since then I have tried to capture a decent photo of him, to no avail. He will fly away as soon as I lift a camera. It has become a game for him, a little mischievous distraction from his normal routine of pecking bugs out of trees. He will land, pose, call out to make certain that I know he is there, wait for me to grab a camera, and then off he goes. The only way I can get a good look at him is if I just watch, without trying to capture his image. In full appreciation of the idea that “there is no folly of the beast of the earth which is not infinitely outdone by the madness of men”(Melville), I resolved to beat him at his own game.

photo 5He was feeling pretty clever because of his ability to fly, but I have some abilities myself: I can buy an iphone adaptor for my binoculars. Now I can shoot my game without him knowing I was ever there.

Red Bellied Woodpecker. And friend
Red Bellied Woodpecker. And friend




6 thoughts on “My white whale is a gray woodpecker

  1. I believe he really is a he given the vibrant colors and he is magnificent. I was raised mostly in the US South and ours were larger and more crow-like in build and referred to as red-headed woodpeckers. They could make quite a racket.
    Well done.


    1. Thank you gsl.
      I must admit to a touch of regret, however. Now that I’ve ‘captured’ him, his chirp no longer brings me scurrying to the kitchen. I still enjoy him, but I miss the chase.


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