Posted tagged ‘woods in spring’

A Visit to Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Sapsucker Woods and My First Pileated Woodpecker

March 22, 2010

Thursday night, a crescent moon glittered over New Jersey.

Splash of moon with your Hudson?

Up in Ithaca on Friday night, a child looked at the “tiny sliver slipper of a moon” hanging in the sky, and said triumphantly to his father, “See? I told you it would be a half-moon.”

“And what’s it going to be tomorrow?”

“I don’t know,” said the child in the tone of a great expert, trying to take seriously an undergraduate’s question.  “Probably full.”

I stopped by the legendary Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

The great Cornell Lab of Ornithology

A friendly resident Canada goose seemed to be the chief greeter.

Lab of O. greeter

He marched right up to the glass doors, and stared inside.

Hey, let me in.

Mallards and a single common merganser swam about the pond. A great blue heron spent much of the afternoon standing on his huge twiggy nest atop a dead tree. Red-tailed hawks circled low time and again. Deep in Sapsucker Woods, nuthatches, hairy woodpeckers and a brown creeper hunted on tree trunks.

The woods looked like a Northeastern version of an East Texas mangrove swamp

Someone had unrolled a plush green carpet of moss in front of a perfect little doorway.

Elf home

Someone else had built a cairn or shrine, reminding me of Easter Island on the Hudson.

Balancing act

And a dream came true when a great dinosaur of a bird, a Pileated woodpecker, swooped over my head and landed on a tree trunk to hunt and drum.

Pileated woodpecker by New Jersey Birds http://www.flickr.com/photos/pazzani

The Lab and its woods are extraordinary places, full of birds, open and welcoming to all. They’ll even lend you binoculars, no questions asked.

I’m home in my beautiful city again, watching the drizzle and listening to pigeons lowing like cows. Thanks for having me, Sapsucker Woods.


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