A woodpecker was foraging on my tree.
I wondered if she knew who was drumming nearby.
Woodpeckers drum for several reasons. Pairs signal each other during courtship, or when approaching to take a shift in the nest. But it was late September, not April. This was no time to begin a brood in Michigan.
Thrum-m-m-m-m. Another drumroll.
The lady peered around the curve of the tree. She seemed to be searching.
Woodpeckers also drum to proclaim territory. Initially, I had assumed the bird foraging on my tree was Lucy, our neighborhood Pileated Woodpecker. But Ricky, her mate, would have no reason to send her a territory warning.
Was this one of their kids? The juveniles normally head out to find their own territories in September. A parent might drop hints that it’s time to leave town. Or, perhaps a young bird from elsewhere was searching for available territory. The drumming could have been a stern warning to vacate.
Here’s a portion of what I saw and heard that day. Before I could reach the camera, I saw the female hop on the tree, and I heard a few wuk-wuk calls from nearby.
Was that Lucy on the tree? Or was it a youngster? I don’t know for sure.
I studied Lucy videos and photos taken in the past few years. I thought I might see some sign of aging—say, a bill with wear and tear—to compare with the female in the video. I suspect this was a juvenile bird, but the photo comparisons were not conclusive.
Maybe Ricky was calling to let Lucy know he’d be late for dinner?