Appalachia: Breaks Interstate Park and vicinity, far western Virginia
May 15, 7:00 a.m.
Sunrise at 6:19 a.m.
A pileated woodpecker drumming, with seven drums over two and a half minutes, for a fairly typical pace. How sharp and ear-splitting these drums are--there's nothing soft and spongy about the substrate that this woodpecker has chosen. Ear-splitting, so loud, so sharp, it's hard to imagine slamming one's head into a tree like this, once every few hundredths of a second, 36 times over 2.3 seconds, as in the first drum.
His first four drums are of a consistent quality, as he must be hammering away at precisely the same point throughout these four drums. But in the fifth drum he seems to experiment, changing the attack just a little, and the resulting resonance is higher, producing a distinctly different pitch. In the sixth drum he's a bit tentative, as if searching for the old place again, and he seems to find it for the rest of that drum and the seventh drum as well.
It's a tough job these woodpeckers have, slamming their heads into hard wooden walls like this. Our human brains certainly would never survive such a thrashing.
American crow, wood thrush, red-eyed vireo, ovenbird, American redstart
Photo by John Van de Graaff