Marilyn and I set out this morning on one of our favorite local adventures, a trip to the Cincinnati Nature Center. The C.N.C. is about a thousand acres of woods, ponds, fields, streams, trails, and quite a bit of wildlife. As always, we were hopeing to spot a Pileated woodpecker, a bird that we do not often see. 
     Heading out on a trail that we have only hiked a few times, we were soon deep into the woods. We talked softly and walked slowly, scaning the woods with our eyes and ears. Many squirrels were going about their daily business, pokeing their noses into anything and everything. We heard several different bird songs and calls.  
     As we approached an opening in the woods we saw hundreds of yellow-orange flowers along the trail. I don't know the name of them, but they were nice to see. About fifty yards farther down the trail we came to a stream. The stream bed was about twenty-five feet wide, but since we have not had much rain lately the water was hardly flowing. We walked across the stream, looking side to side to see where the stream came from and where it was going. We couldn't really tell, but could only imagine.
     Seeing the shelter on top of the cliff, we knew that was where we were headed. We were now in the area where we had seen the Pileated woodpecker before. All we had to do was to climb almost straight up in order to get to the shelter, where we could sit and watch for the bird. It took us a while but we finally made it to the shelter, which overlooked hundreds of acres of the Nature Center. We sat and waited, watched and listened. Marilyn and I hadn't seen the bird for several months, so I think that we had hope to see it but didn't really expect to see it. But we still sat and waited. We saw cardinals, chickadees, finches, robins, and other birds, but no Pileated. I think Marilyn was the first to hear a woodpecker, but it was a Redbellied, not a Pileated.
     We sat and waited longer. We could hear walnuts, acorns, and other nuts falling from the trees onto the dried leaves below.  But no Pileated.  Then I thought I heard a tap-tap-tap on one of the many dead trees nearby. It wasn't the very fast tapping of a Redbellied or a Downy woodpecker, but a slower, louder, more deliberate tap. I stood up and gazed in the direction of the tapping sound.  Nothing.  Maybe I just imagined I heard something. Maybe I just wanted to hear something.
     Then I saw it.   A magnificent bird, nearly as large as a crow.  Its head adorned with a brilliant red crest, a white stripe across its face and wings, it was the Pileated!
     "There it is!" I said to Marilyn.
     She jumped from her seat to see it.
     "The Pill" she said.  That's what she always calls the Pileated woodpecker. "The Pill"
      We watched it for several minutes. It seemed not to notice us as it drove it's long slender bill into the dead branch. It stopped for a few seconds, looked around, then flew to a tree even closer to us. Tap-tap-tap. Tap-tap-tap. Large chips of wood were falling to the ground as the mighty bird was hammering into the dead tree, no doubt in search of insects to eat.
       "I can't believe we found it." she said, as she observed the great birds every motion.
        "Oh no, there it goes." I said as the bird flew from the tree, across the stream, and out of sight.
        We stayed at the shelter a few more minutes, recounting  what we had seen.   Then we moved on.
       We saw other animals on our hike. A deer crossed our path. At one of the ponds we saw several turtles sunning themselves on a log. We saw Bluegills in the pond and minnows in the stream, we saw many more birds. But what we talked about as we headed home was "The Pill" and how we had finally found him again.         

       Click on the title above to leave a comment.  Thanks, Rick