Pileated Woodpecker, Minneapolis,
Minnesota, February 2009, all photos ©
2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
beetles hidden under bark;
dig deeper for truth
I was surprised to hear drumming in the woods behind our house last Friday afternoon. After standing in silence for a time, I spotted three pileated woodpeckers in the oaks, males checking out new territory. Though the downy and hairy woodpeckers are often seen at our feeder, I had never seen a pileated that close to our home. The last was at the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary a few years ago.
There are about 180 species of woodpeckers in the world, each spending nearly their entire lives in trees. They are climbers and prop their stiff pointed tail feathers against a support while shifting leg holds. With body close to the trunk or branch and head bobbing, the bird is nimble and fast, darting sideways at such incredible speeds that predators have difficulty catching them.
It is my belief that animals and birds show up along our path to help us find our way. There are many cultures that honor the otherworldly role of animals in our lives. There are birth totems and spiritual totems, and those who appear once in a blue moon to remind us of what might be important in that moment. Birds link the Spiritual and the Earthly, the Upper and Lower worlds.
Woodpeckers with their erratic flight patterns and rhythmic drumming are one of the heartbeats of the Earth. I saw the three pileated woodpeckers as a sign in changing times — everything will be alright. According to one site about woodpeckers as spiritual guides, here are some of the characteristics and wisdom of Woodpecker:
- woodpecker flight patterns are unique; honor personal rhythmic patterns, stay grounded to obtain goals
- be open to self discovery; by pecking into bark and dead wood, hidden layers of the psyche are revealed
- woodpeckers are active birds; caution is advised to maintain balance when reviewing any situation or issue. Don’t be too focused on the mental; too much analyzing can result in procrastination.
- woodpecker finds food hidden under layers of bark and wood teaching us to dig deeply to find truth and deceptions. Woodpecker energy is associated with prophecy and the ability to see deeper than surface lies.
- even if something seems difficult to do, do not give up. Do what works, even if it is unconventional. Set your own pace, your own rhythm.
- people born under the woodpecker sign need safety and security and are often wary because of their extreme sensitivity to their surroundings; learn to move through life with perseverance and inner strength
- woodpecker folks are able to “ride the flow of life” and to receive in silence. They are gentle, sensitive and dreamy folks who tend to both absorb and reflect things around them. They are here to learn more independence and stability.
Pileated Woodpecker, Earth Drummer, Minneapolis, Minnesota, February 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.
pileated (from the Online Etymology Dictionary)
1728, from L. pileatus “capped,” from pileus “felt cap without a brim,” from Gk. pilos. Applied in natural history to certain birds and sea urchins.
To learn more facts about woodpeckers, visit these sites:
- Pileated Woodpecker Central
- Cornell Lab of Ornithology — All About Birds
- National Geographic — Pileated Woodpecker
- Seattle Audubon Society Bird Web — Birds of Washington State
- The Search for the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker — Cornell Lab of Ornithology
-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, March 1st, 2009