My life list of birds I have seen is pitifully short, just over forty at last count. They range from robins to much more exotic types. Take, for instance, pelicans. I had no idea they hung around these parts until, three years in a row, our local paper published photos of them zooming in for a landing on the Mississippi, where Lock and Dam No. 11 evidently churns up a lot of irresistible fish. Thanks to Iowa’s ever warmer winters, we can see them year round, though of course I’d much rather have 20-below temps send them back to Florida by December. I have, on occasion, managed to coax something gorgeous into my yard, proving, for instance, that jelly dish = Baltimore Oriole. Lacking that, I have forced my eyes to follow the sound of another on my list, thus learning that the white throated sparrow, he of the gobstopping song, is actually quite a homely little thing. As the Brits call them, a Little Brown Job.
There has been one bird, though, that I figured I would never encounter anywhere near Dubuque, as I figured Pileated Woodpeckers are native only the southeast, never venturing north of Mississippi (the state, not the river). Then I read, in the down-home newsletter of the local Audubon Society, that they do hang out in these parts, but they don’t like feeders and tend to congregate in the woods. Our backyard is more wooded than most, but all I see there are squirrels, hawks, and deer, plus the occasional housecat hunting down yet another songbird. Did you know that the primary predator of songbirds is the domestic cat? Keep your damned cat indoors, dammit.
So I want to look for a PW, and I am willing to trudge up to Julien Dubuque’s gravesite just to see it. That is where the watchers found them, so that is where I will go.
Stay tuned . . .