Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

As we celebrating the International Migratory Bird Day 2012, Atlanta Audubon Society and US Park Services held a field trip today at Chattahoochee National Park, Johnson Ferry Unit (see map at this link). My good friend, Nikki Belmonte and I led 13 birders in an overcast and rainy morning, and spotted 30 species. The highlight of this field trip was seeing 5 Indigo Buntings (2 pairs, 1 additional male), one White-eyed Vireo and one Great Blue Heron! During the trip, Nikki told me two wonderful news and her news inspired me to write this post :)

Mom is feeding her boys :) ..Click photo to enlarge
Nikki asked me " Linda,  have you seen Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) babies?", I said with a regretful tone "Nope, but I wish I have though...." If you guys follow my posts, you must know I am fascinated with all avian newborn and who doesn't, right, you might say. However, you do require special attention and birding etiquette to photograph nestlings because as we get close to the nests, we might attract unnecessary attention for predators. Nikki told me she spotted some Pileated babies and gave me a "wink" saying that "we need someone who can photograph these cute babies before they fly ...." After the field trip, I raced to the site Nikki told me earlier. First of all, I got sidetracked by this huge Red-tailed Hawk soaring over my head. The first impression came to my mind was "Oh, no!...The Pileated babies might be in danger...I'd better find them quick." I was ready to guard the nest as long as I can or until their parents show up. Due to the overcast, I worried that my camera might got soaked in rain and soon found out there was a small gazebo right next to the nest and I was so relieved!

Pileated Woodpeckers are monogamous and they stay together year round to defend their territory. Male excavates nesting hole from a dead tree or tree log and mother woodpecker gives the final touch to complete a lovely nest for their newborn. They don't reuse their nest and since they don't put any nesting material inside the tree hole, often time these old cavities from Pileated Woodpecker become important nesting sites for many birds such as Wood Ducks, swifts, and many other cavity nesting birds such as Eastern Bluebird, Red-headed Woodpecker and Red-bellied Woodpecker. Though, Pileated Woodpeckers are not endangered, a mature forest with dead trees is very important to them, their offspring and many other smaller birds. One thing I find fascinated is that one will think a bird this big must eat a lot. They do!  But do you know about 40% or more of their diet is consuming termites and carpenter ants!! Their existence not only benefits other birds, they benefit human too (I support Biological Pest Control)!!

I am blessed to have a mature forest in my backyard. Few years ago, a friend recommended to cut down all dead trees to avoid trees falling towards the house from storms or lightening. I never did any thing to those dead trees or snags and thought they were uniquely beautiful (I was not a birder then.....). And, I now find a reason, a great one!

A resident told me he saw three baby woodpeckers in the nest. I only see two babies at any given time.
 If you look at these two images carefully, you might agree there are at least three babies inside the nest.
In this picture, female is the one to the left, male is the one with red malar. It takes about 4 weeks to fledge.
Finally, it's my sincere honor to photograph this happy woodpecker family and I'd like to dedicate this post to my good friend, Nikki Belmonte and her very tiny one ... without her encouragement, I would not be able to find and photograph these touching moments to share with readers; and to all the mothers in the world with your sacrifices and dedication we grow big and strong; and to my own mother, who supports me patiently for every step I have crawled over, who loves me with no less for all the mistakes I have made and who listens and is still listening through so many dark nights of my life .....Happy Mother's Day to you all!! --- Linda

Now enjoy this video .... Feel free to drop me a line or two and share with someone you know who love wild bird and earth :)


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  1. Lovely pix - I'll subscribe as I live in Atlanta now and like to know the birdy doings here. I saw the post on the GABO list. Thanks!

  2. I also added you to my blogroll ( Your photography is tops!

  3. Thanks everyone who viewed and shared this post. Feel free to share any of my posts with your twitter or FB audience :)


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