A nice first bird of the year

Photo by Chris Bosak A pileated woodpecker searches for food in a dead tree on New Year's Day 2018.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A pileated woodpecker searches for food in a dead tree on New Year’s Day 2018.

The weather app on the phone said the temperature was 0 degrees (yes, as in zero). It was New Year’s Day, though, so no excuses: I had to take that walk I promised myself I’d take.

Photo by Chris Bosak A pileated woodpecker searches for food in a dead tree on New Year's Day 2018.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A pileated woodpecker searches for food in a dead tree on New Year’s Day 2018.

As soon as I walked out the door I heard a loud knocking that I strongly suspected was a pileated woodpecker. A quick glance in the direction of the knocking and my suspicion was confirmed. A female pileated woodpecker banged away at a dead tree in the backyard (well, technically not my backyard, but open space that abuts my backyard.)

First bird of 2018 is a pileated woodpecker. Not bad at all.

I watched the crow-sized woodpecker for several minutes and snapped photos until my “shooting” hand froze. That didn’t take long.

I moved on to give the woodpecker some peace and quiet on this frigid day.

The rest of the walk was rather uneventful, but I did see three other types of woodpeckers: downy; hairy and red-bellied. Those are the easy three to get in southern New England. The pileated is the more difficult one to spot, so getting four woodpeckers in one day is pretty good.

In southern New England, yellow-bellied sapsuckers and northern flickers are also possibilities so a six-woodpecker day is not unheard of. Get really lucky and spot a red-headed woodpecker and you’ve got a seven-woodpecker day.

The woodpecker varieties change slightly as you move throughout New England. Downys, hairys, sapsuckers, flickers and pileateds are possibilities from top to bottom, but red-bellieds are more of a southern New England bird — at least at this point. Their range is expanding north and they are getting more common in the middle part of New England.

In northern New England, black-backed and three-toed woodpeckers are good finds.

The red-headed woodpecker is also found in New England; mostly in the southern part of the region and not commonly seen.

So I started the year with a four-woodpecker day. I’ll take that for Jan. 1.

Photo by Chris Bosak A red-bellied woodpecker searches for food in an oal tree during a cold day in Jan. 2018.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A red-bellied woodpecker searches for food in an oak tree during a cold day in Jan. 2018.

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