Big Bird Battles

4 Jun

Hawthorne and I walked in reverse this morning, going west along the edge of the grass sea and corn field, waded through goldenrod and mayflowers, turning north onto a path in the west woods.  Well, I did.  He was off running elsewhere.

From ahead near the corner where the cornfield and main north woods meet came the loud calls of a pileated woodpecker.   On and on it called.  Then a crow took up calling, loud and raucous.  Were they screaming at each other?

Then another pileated woodpecker joined in.  At this point I stopped walking because the noise was coming from only 60 or so feet away up in the high treetops.  I hoped to see those woodpeckers and maybe figure out what was going on.

There were two tall dead trees. With holes up high.  Possible pileated nest sights.  One woodpecker flew from a treetop to the top of one of those dead trees. Now it was two pileateds and two crows yelling all out. How long could birds go on in this fashion?  Piercing, repeated, angry, fearful, defiant.

Then:  “hoo-Hoo”; and a large brown bird with a wingspan as broad as my outstretched arms flew from that vicinity west into other treetops.  A Great Horned Owl!  I moved slowly up the path trying for a better view; it flew off further west.

It all came clear in that instant.  A few moments later another great horned flew east from a tree north of the one the woodpeckers were guarding.  The owls were harassing or hunting the nestlings of the woodpeckers.  Crows, which hate owls, had located the owls and had helped the woodpeckers drive them off.

Hawthorne ran up, panting, just after the excitement was over.  “Did I miss much”?

The large rhododendron and the azalea which it is overtaking are both open.  That poor orange beauty always has small worms that come and denude it of leaves, and this year the flowers, too.  The worms change color depending on what they have been chomping on: green leaves or orange flowers.


One Response to “Big Bird Battles”

  1. SandySays1 7 June 2011 at 4:18 PM #

    I love both the owls and pis. We have pis in one palm tree and redheads in another 200′ away. One of the neighborhood birders told me that’s unusual. Is it?

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