Bella, Bella, A Beautiful Woodpecker

My post this week was going to focus on some more of the birds we have in residence on our little piece of the earth, but before I could write it, I received an amazing picture from my good friend in the Seattle area. Here it is:       

Bella and Kim (©Bob Holt)

For those of you who don’t know birds, that is a pileated woodpecker, a wild one, not a pet. Here’s the story. My friend Kim was looking out her sunroom window when she saw a pileated with an arrow in its back. She called all the relevant wildlife agency dudes (she’s well-connected in that area-we met because of our mutual work with wolf recovery). Turns out, it was no arrow; it was an antenna on a harness.     

She found out a young man named Jorge, a PhD student at the U. of Washington, was conducting a project with woodpeckers. Here’s the website, . He asked Kim to call when she saw it again. The next time the bird showed up – no antenna. The little stinker had ditched it somewhere, so Kim invited Jorge to come and recapture the male in her yard. Well, it was quite a project, eventually involving a fake pileated and some woodpecker rock music,  and they ended up catching his mate instead (the bird in the picture). Jorge called her a beautiful lady, so Kim named her Bella. (No, you don’t normally name research subjects, but that’s my Kim!)  Kim helped him take all the proper statistics on the bird and put an antenna on her.       

Processing Bella (©Bob Holt)

 These wonderful birds are second nature to us here in the eastern Ohio woodlands, but Jorge, who is from Chile, is ascertaining how woodpeckers and other birds that nest in holes in trees are doing in developing urban areas like Seattle. Those holes actually support a whole host of critters once the pileateds are finished with them. It is important to know how our sprawl around the world affects wildlife, so that we and future generations can continue to enjoy their company and their beauty. Eventually, Jorge will take what he has learned back to his own country and apply it there. Birders know how closely we are connected to our friends in South America when it comes to bird habitat and I am sure his findings will be valuable.   

Check out his website. Think about supporting projects like this in your area. I know Kim had a BALL helping out. Here’s a place to start in Ohio – the Ohio Breeding Bird Atlas,  Felicidades to Jorge, Kim, and, of course, Bella!   


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One response to “Bella, Bella, A Beautiful Woodpecker

  1. Pingback: Little Pleasures and Big Treasures in the Spring Woods | Fishing for Words

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