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Raised wings and open claws add drama to reader’s photo of nesting woodpeckers

Pileated Woodpeckers (Dryocopus pileatus), Auburn, Alabama, April 26, 2013, 8:29 a.m. by Lew Scharpf
Pileated Woodpeckers (Dryocopus pileatus), Auburn, Alabama, April 26, 2013, 8:29 a.m. by Lew Scharpf

In late April 2013, life-long birder Lew Scharpf was photographing birds in a park in Auburn, Alabama, a city just west of the Georgia state line, when a male Pileated Woodpecker landed in a nearby tree. It was excavating a nest cavity about 70 feet above the ground. To get good photos, Scharpf knew he’d need his telephoto lens, extender, and tripod.

When he returned a few days later with the equipment, the male was with a female, and both woodpeckers were working on the cavity. Scharpf focused on the birds and was thankful for the rich blue sky behind them. Just as the female lifted her white-lined wings and flew out of the hole, the male perched beside it. He posted his remarkable photo of the scene in our U.S. and Canada Gallery.

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