Thanks to readers and Sabine update – amazing new bird!

First things first.

I am very grateful to a couple readers who have enriched my life with new books and … a good thermos!

PP of CA was very kind and found a thermos on my amazon wish list.  This is extremely useful for me here at the Sabine Farm, and will be so during driving trips.  I am rather like the Chinese, who like to keep hot water on demand around the place.  Thanks!

I received from someone, I don’t know who, The Devastated Vineyard by Dietrich von Hildebrand.  Most of the time, there is an invoice which says who sent the item.  Sometimes there is not.  So, this is my way of thanking you.

Also, a couple of you have used the donation button recently.  Thanks so much!

Some work goes into keeping the place look good and be fruitful.  The apple trees are being sprayed to reduce both apple scab and also to reduce parasites.  This is being a responsible neighbor, as well! 

Now… there is a new discovery at the Sabine Farm. 


"Wow, Father… that’s really interesting.   I see a blob on that branch in the upper right.  Big deal!"

Yes… big deal.  But blob on the branch on the upper right, which is a Robin, is not the point. 

Look more closely.

In the middle.

See him?  See him?

I was coming back to the house from my work out and saw an enormous bird winging it toward the creek.

I got my camera and went out and followed in the direction of the flight.  Finally, after some serious stalking, I got at least this photo.

"But Father!  But Father!  What are we looking at?"  I don’t see anything.

This is the best I was able to get, but I will be watching closely in the days to come.

This is Dryocopus pileatus, Mr. Pileated Woodpecker, the most spectacular of Family Picidae.

He stands almost 20 inches high.

I am pretty sure this is the Pileated, rather than the very rare Ivory-Billed.

I have only seen this bird once in my life, many years ago. 

The camera will be at hand when I go out.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Anna says:

    The first and only time I have seen the pileated was almost 30 years ago as a child. I was in a rowboat, on a lake, in the very early morning, with my father. It was so awesome, a special gift to see. My father is now deceased and the memory is one of my fondest of him. These birds are so breathtaking.

  2. a catechist says:

    Keep your eyes open for the other one! Once they have paired for the summer, they usually stay within a couple of trees of each other. Thanks for the photos!

  3. georgeaquinas says:

    The Pileated is one of the avian success stories. They have adapted fairly to human activity and are now increasing in abundance. At one time they were in a serious decline. Their call sounds like a Common Flicker only more raucous. They are a beautiful bird.

  4. Mary Rose says:

    Oooohhhh….my darlin’ man will be green with envy! We have been traipsing through a nearby park in search of the elusive Mr. Woodpecker. We can often hear him, but can’t see him! Congratulations on your new friend! My husband took down from his site some of his bird photos from the zoo, (which saddens me a little to see them there…) but here’s a link to his other photos.

    I’ve so enjoyed your bird photographs and will definitely share this one with him. Thanks for posting them!

  5. Jon says:


    Pileateds are spectacular, aren’t they? That’s great that you’ve seen one in your northerly latitude. They’re very common where my folks live in Western NC, where they wreak havoc on the cedar siding of my parents home.

    You can also be very sure it’s not the “Lord God Bird”
    which is indigenous (if it’s still flapping around) to virgin forests of the Deep South.

    Btw, I’m fascinated by this interest you’ve recently shown in ornithology. The first thing I wanted to be as a kid was an ornithologist, then a priest (I’m not either). But this makes me me wonder if we’re not long lost brothers. Anyway, Birding’s a great hobby. I’ve always been amazed at how instantly evident the creating finger of God can be seen in a bird on the wing.

    Keep the pics of the Sabine Bird Sanctuary coming. They’re beautiful.

  6. James Garrison says:


    What a wonderful sight. I have yet to get a good photograph of the pileated, as they seem to frighten easily. Good survival instinct when you are such a big target I assume. I’ve seen one a couple times in the North Woods of Minnesota, but wasn’t able to get the camera up quickly enough. Monster woodpeckers are always fun to see, if not a bit scary, due to their pecking power.

    Good luck, and I hope you get a shot and can share it with us!


  7. Chironomo says:

    Although not commonly sighted, we see the Pileated Woodpecker (we call them the “giant” woodpecker) probably more often than many in the US. They are ocassional visitors in our neighborhood (SW Florida) and are indeed spectacular. The chances of it being an Ivory Billed (which are still not positively identified as even existing still) is remote.

  8. Thomas says:


    The piliated is my favorite bird. I have seen him only twice. Once was a mating pair at Doughoregan Manor, the plantation of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence. I have recently HEARD him in the mornings at my house, but have yet to spot him with my morning coffee in hand.

  9. Tim says:

    I’m a U.P.S. package car driver myself (which of course makes me cringe every time you write the name of the accursed company F-d -x) and was very surprised to see your driver making a delivery out of his driver side door (a big no no) and not using his hand rail while exiting the truck (a really big no no !). Shhhh! I wont tell U.P.S. management if you wont ! However I did give you great information to tease him with, but please don’t take to much of his time the company likes to keep us really really busy!

  10. Tim: This is the Sabine Farm. I am sure that all things, being safe and harmonious, lend themselves to a certain practical comfort.

  11. Dan Hunter says:

    Dear Father,
    I hope you enjoy the excellent book by Von Hildebrsnd,”The Devastated Vineyard”, that I sent you off of your wish list.
    I had e-mailed you last week when I ordered it for you.
    Everyone who is interested in learning about the mayhem wrought in the Church by the Council and the Concilium should read this, sad to say out of print, work of genius.

    Does anyone know where I can acquire another great Von Hildebrand book entitled,”Satan at Work”?
    God bless you

  12. M. says:

    In the last photo it looks almost as if the bird is wearing a red birretta.

  13. Katherine says:

    Here in central NC we have had the pleasure? of having a piliated woodpecker banging away on our siding each morning for the past few weeks. I think he hears bugs underneath. Luckily it is a rental so I’m not worrying about rot and extermination costs!

  14. Christa says:


    Sure enough that is a pileated woodpecker! Congratulations!

    Once, over 30 years ago, my son and I saw one in southern Indiana at my grandparents’ farm. My son was SO impressed…and told everyone he had seen an “amalgamated woodpecker.”

    That is now a favorite family joke.

    Thanks for the picture!

  15. A thermos? Ha! I’m going to be singing in my head for the rest of the day.

    “Oh I’m picking out a thermos for you!”

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