From the tiniest Downy to the largest Pileated the park has a beautiful variety of spectacular Woodpeckers. I found learning the call of each bird helpful as is listening for pecking sounds. Once you have heard their calls you will be scanning the Trees to spot these lovely creatures.
Pileated Woodpecker: About the size of a Crow the largest of the North American Woodpeckers. Wonderful call songs like cackling chickens, one of my favorite sounds in the Forest. They are a glorious site and I hope to one day to capture a photo looking down as it glides past with it’s wings spread. You can search Trees for the pecking marks created by their heavy chiseled beaks. Males have red markings by their beaks and juveniles have amber brown eyes. Spectacular feature is their red crest found on both males and females.
Red-Bellied Woodpecker: One of my first Forest friends, I am often followed by these beauties. Like the Pileated Woodpecker they have a distinctive cackling call. The males have vibrant red heads. Their beaks have a long cone shape. To see why they are called red-bellied see picture below of an unflattering shot from behind .
Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker: Each time I see one of these beauties I have hope for the park. The Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker is a Keystone species its presence is important to the environmental balance of the Forest. The Male has distinct red coloring on its head and throat, females have white throats. Juveniles have a murky appearance as brown transitions to black and red forms on the head.
Hairy Woodpecker: Slightly larger than it’s look-a-like of the Downy Woodpecker, easily distinguished by heavier chisel shaped beak.
Downy Woodpecker: Small black and white Woodpecker, acrobatic often found flocking with Chickadees and Nuthatches. Acrobatic movement rapidly hopping up, down and around Trees. They make a lively pipping joyful sound.
The Autumn Leaves are falling revealing hidden friends, I have missed them through these many months. As the rust, gold and red drift lazily down to the Forest floor, Trees are delicate dark scultures rising to meet the sky. Dancing on the trunks and limbs are winged beauties showcasing their vibrant songs flashing spectacular plumage. I know their voices from my year of hiking in the Mountains and am blessed to know who has arrived along the trail as I hike.
On the Short Cut Trail a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker kept a pecking rhythm as a Yellow-Rumped Warbler sang a lovely melody harmonizing with a Tufted Titmouse. On the Hot Springs Mountain Top Trail a lively light pipping sound is filling the air, I look up to see a sweet Brown Creeper moving from Tree Branches to Pine Cone clusters. As I move further along the path I see a lovely Chipmunk sunning on a rock to my side, its golden fur glistens in the light. Pecking grows louder as I head further up the trail, to my side I see a Male Downy Woodpecker pecking and digging to create a new home in a Tree.
As I am preparing to leave the park and head over to photograph a wonderful rainbow Tree near the visitors center I am happy to see a family of Northern Mockingbirds. Please note I did nothing to deserve “Sometimes Even Nature Flips Me The Bird )“ it is why I adore these winged friends.
Thank You for coming into the Forest with me.