Female Pileated Woodpecker, Mississippi River, dam #9

I start with the biggest highlight of our bird watching weekend. It happened on the dike of dam #9 in the Mississippi River, just north of Harpers Ferry, Iowa. I was hoping to see another kinglet again but instead a full grown Pileated Woodpecker just landed on a dead tree trunk right in front of me. I made quickly a few clicks but my view was obstructed by branches. Luckily the woodpecker took off again and flew to another tree, a little further away. Only a couple thin twigs were between me and the bird this time but I can live with them.

The Pileated is the largest woodpecker in North America. They are about half a meter tall and their call is usual a very loud “kee-kee-kee-kee-kee”. We actually have them here in our woods above the Little Maquoketa River Valley, and if you use the search field in the side bar of my blog, you may find my older reports about this bird. The Pileated Woodpecker is very shy and skittish and that makes it always a special event if we see one or get it in front of the lens.

All images: Nikon D750, Sigma 150-600mm / f5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Lens, tripod, Induro GHB2 gimbal head

The woodpecker didn’t hesitate a second and started to wedge its large bill between the tree trunk and the bark. Big pieces of bark were flying around and this female knew obviously very well where to find a good snack. The second picture has a little motion blur but it shows pretty good how she attacked the tree. I would have been still very happy if this Pileated was the only bird we would have seen during the whole weekend. But there was more…, so please stay tuned…