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Saturday, February 8, 2020

February 8, 2020

Location: St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park

I am a Red-cockaded Woodpecker,
I have a ladder back and a small, pointy beak
You will probably never see my red cockade,
But you can't miss my bright white cheeks.

(Funny story here: This picture was taken on the South Brevard Christmas Bird Count. We got to the SSRPSP at 4:30 a.m., and, armed with headlamps and waterproof boots, me and my partner in crime Kate, headed off into the woods in search of the RCW. It would be a life bird for her - we had scouted for a it a few days before the count but didn't find it. Although we didn't find the RCW, we did find that almost all of the 1.5 miles out to his tree was under about 8 inches of water.  

So, off we went into the dark woods. Being girls we chatted and yacked while walking. And walking. And walking. Eventually we came to a fence across the path that we hadn't seen on our previous trip... at which point I checked my Fitbit and realized that despite my new head lamp, we had overshot the woodpecker's tree by about 1/2 mile.  So, we trudged back through the water, and by the time we got to his tree, he had already left for the day. Dejected, we trudged all the way back to the visitor's center to regroup.

So then, after much needed coffee and a snack, we joined up with the rest of our team, got in the car, and drove down to the power lines. I walked about 10 feet from the car and this RCW flew down, said Hi, and begged me to take his picture. Which was nice and all, but it would have been WAY nicer if we hadn't spent 3 hours trudging through water pre-dawn. 

Ok, but the story doesn't end there. Oh no. So, just last week, David and I were leading a tour. The client wanted to know where the RCWs were. We walked about a mile and a half, and no sign of the RCW, despite seeing lots of appropriate trees. We figured we couldn't let the client go away without seeing anything cool, so we decided to take him out and show him a manatee. As we are driving down the road, David stops the car on the road and says, "Oh there's the RCW." We get out, and sure enough, right on the side of the road is an RCW, posing and saying hi. 

So, I have a theory that the RCWs are working in cahoots with my trainer. I think she told them that they should hide until I have gotten my Fitbit steps in for the day, then reward me with a sighting after. Which makes me wonder what I would have to do to see an Ivory-billed Woodpecker!)

Sources: Cornell Lab All About Birds - Red-cockaded Woodpecker

Photo and text © 2020 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

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