Canoe Country by Florence Page Jacques

By Florence Page Jacques

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He looked so powerful I longed to see him attack a tree, for he cuts and chisels like mad, hanging on by his feet and using his whole body for a hammer. Chips and strips of bark fly in every direction, and he sometimes rips off pieces a foot long. 30 But he didn't perform for me. He went away instead, flashing the great spots of white beneath his wings as he flew, and left me lost in admiration. Lee says the courtship dance of the pileated woodpecker is most extraordinary. The male and female meet on a treetop, spread their pinions wide (they're between two and three feet across) and hop and balance and bow to each other.

We met our first pileated woodpecker here, high on a charred pine. ) He is very shy and is found in the wildest places, so I was glad to have a chance to gaze at him. He was a stunning bird, about twice as large as our red-headed woodpecker; black with a pattern of white on wings and neck, and a flashing red crest. He looked so powerful I longed to see him attack a tree, for he cuts and chisels like mad, hanging on by his feet and using his whole body for a hammer. Chips and strips of bark fly in every direction, and he sometimes rips off pieces a foot long.

Great white boulders gleamed here and there in the clear waterway. The rushes massed around us. Along silent curves we slid, on and on, until at last a small rapids rushed down from the black sanctuary of the forest. Its foamy course broke the silence; we took a breath, and turned our canoe homeward. It was dusk now, but a faint clear light still held. As we drifted back through the high reeds, great horizontal ripples came slowly toward us through the crystal water. It gave me the oddest sensation — our canoe seemed to be rising straight up into the twilight air.

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