Bird #97 — Pileated Woodpecker

dryocopus (from drys, an oak tree, and kopis, cleaver) pileatus (crested)

Wednesday, December 26, 1979 — 2:00 pm

McNaughton, Wisconsin — Trepte’s driveway

Sally and I got married in Mom and Dad’s house in Northern Wisconsin on Saturday, December 29, 1979.  We went up several days early and stayed at the house.  On Spider Lake, on the property next door, is a summer cabin owned by a family named Trepte.  Their driveway is about half a mile long and winds through the woods, passing within 150 yards of Mom and Dad’s house.

On Wednesday afternoon, Sal and I took a walk.  We wandered through the trees to Trepte’s drive and started walking toward the cabin.  We hadn’t gone very far when a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers flew out of the woods and landed on the trunk of a tall, dead pine about 50 feet from where we stood.  We slowly walked toward them and got within 30 feet of the base of the tree before they took off.  When they flew, they made no noise at all.  I was impressed by how quiet and inconspicuous they were for such large birds.  And they looked positively prehistoric.  We were impressed.

The next day, Mom and Dad went to Minocqua and stopped at Popov’s, a wildlife art store.  Dad bought us a limited edition print of a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers by Owen J. Gromme.  Ken took it home with him and had a custom barn-wood frame made for us by Val Blasius, a man in his church.

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