Archive for May 3rd, 2009


Male and Female Pileated Woodpeckers

I’ve never been a bird fancier, but I’ve always been a hiker.  Since I take along a camera, taking pictures of birds just seems, well…natural.  I’ve been learning about birds based on birds I’ve already found.  For instance, I learned the difference between a Hairy Woodpecker and a Downy Woodpecker because I had taken a picture of a Downy.  I’ve been using the following website to help identify the birds:

On the pages for the individual birds it has a description, usually a picture and also the types of sounds they make.  While listening to the various sounds some of these birds make, I realized I’d been hearing some of them.  The Northern Flicker which I am currently trying to get a picture of, for instance, and the Pileated Woodpecker which I have already photographed.  Today, while hiking, I tried to track down a Northern Flicker that I could hear.  I got distracted by three deer and ended up taking shots of them instead.

Later, while hiking in the same area that I had seen a Pileated Woodpecker a few days ago, I heard one calling.  So, into the woods I went, listening to the forest sounds, trying to comprehend the difference between Squirrels chasing each other and the drumming sound of the Pileated Woodpecker.  I had hoped to find the male and photograph him because I already have a number of photos of the female.


From a few days ago, this female nervously looked for food on this log while I shot pictures of her.


Always mindful of her surroundings, she even cast a few nervous glances at me. 

So today while hiking, I tried to find the male.  I heard a Pileated Woodpecker calling and left the hiking trail.  I went into the woods about a hundred feet and then stopped to listen.  I could hear a faint drumming.  The Pileated Woodpecker doesn’t make that sharp tata tat tata tat sound that the smaller woodpeckers make.  It makes a low drumming sound.  I listened and I could hear it drumming.  Deeper into the woods I went.  I had gotten very close and could hear it drumming in the trees around me but couldn’t see it.  Then I noticed movement in a large dead tree about fifty feet away.


The male Pileated Woodpecker has a red stripe from the bill back.


He turned out to be much more shy than the female and as soon as I tried to inch closer, he flew away.


Yellow Warbler


I found this bird flying from spot to spot near a marsh.  Fairly common Yellow Warblers often raise the young of Brown-headed Cowbirds. 


Brown-headed Cowbirds will lay an egg in the Yellow Warblers nest and if the Warbler doesn’t catch on to the trick will raise the Cowbird’s young at the expense of its own.


For more information please see: Yellow Warbler


On This Day, May 3: Union Army Retreats

May 3, 1863

Confederates take Hazel Grove at Chancellorsville

On this day, General Joseph Hooker and the Army of the Potomac abandon a key hill on the Chancellorsville battlefield. The Union army was reeling after Stonewall Jackson’s troops swung around the Union right flank and stormed out of the woods on the evening of May 2, causing the Federals to retreat some two miles before stopping the Confederate advance. Nonetheless, Hooker’s forces were still in a position to deal a serious defeat to Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia because they had a numerical advantage and a strategic position between Lee’s divided forces. But Lee had Hooker psychologically beaten.

Union forces controlled the key geographical feature in the Chancellorsville area: Hazel Grove, a hill that provided a prime artillery location. General J.E.B. Stuart, the head of the Confederate cavalry, assumed temporary command of Stonewall Jackson’s corps after Jackson was wounded the night before (a wound that proved fatal a week later) and planned to attack Hazel Grove the next morning. This move was made much easier when Hooker made the crucial mistake of ordering an evacuation of the decisive hill.

Once Stuart’s artillery occupied Hazel Grove, the Confederates proceeded to wreak havoc on the Union lines around Chancellorsville. Rebel cannons shelled the Union line, and the fighting resulted in more Union casualties than Jackson’s attack the day before. Hooker himself was wounded when an artillery shell struck the column he was leaning against. Stunned, Hooker took a shot of brandy and ordered the retreat from the Chancellorsville area, which allowed Jackson’s men to rejoin the bulk of Lee’s troops. The daring flanking maneuver had worked. Hooker had failed to exploit the divided Army of Northern Virginia, and allowed the smaller Rebel force to defeat his numerically superior force.

“Confederates take Hazel Grove at Chancellorsville,” The History Channel website, 2009, [accessed May 3, 2009]

On This Day

1568 – French forces in Florida slaughtered hundreds of Spanish.

1855 – Macon B. Allen became the first African American to be admitted to the Bar in Massachusetts.

1921 – West Virginia imposed the first state sales tax.

1933 – The U.S. Mint was under the direction of a woman for the first time when Nellie Ross took the position.

1937 – Margaret Mitchell won a Pulitzer Prize for “Gone With The Wind.”

1948 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that covenants prohibiting the sale of real estate to blacks and other minorities were legally unenforceable.

1952 – The first airplane landed at the geographic North Pole.

1971 – Anti-war protesters began four days of demonstrations in Washington, DC.

1971 – National Public Radio broadcast for the first time.

1986 – In NASA’s first post-Challenger launch, an unmanned Delta rocket lost power in its main engine shortly after liftoff. Safety officers destroyed it by remote control.

1992 – Five days of rioting and looting ended in Los Angeles, CA. The riots, that killed 53 people, began after the acquittal of police officers in the beating of Rodney King.

1999 – Mark Manes, at age 22, was arrested for supplying a gun to Eric Harris and Dylan Kleibold, who later killed 13 people at Columbine High School in Colorado.

May 3, 1942

The Battle of the Coral Sea begins

On this, the first day of the first modern naval engagement in history, called the Battle of the Coral Sea, a Japanese invasion force succeeds in occupying Tulagi of the Solomon Islands in an expansion of Japan’s defensive perimeter.

The United States, having broken Japan’s secret war code and forewarned of an impending invasion of Tulagi and Port Moresby, attempted to intercept the Japanese armada. Four days of battles between Japanese and American aircraft carriers resulted in 70 Japanese and 66 Americans warplanes destroyed. This confrontation, called the Battle of the Coral Sea, marked the first air-naval battle in history, as none of the carriers fired at each other, allowing the planes taking off from their decks to do the battling. Among the casualties was the American carrier Lexington; “the Blue Ghost” (so-called because it was not camouflaged like other carriers) suffered such extensive aerial damage that it had to be sunk by its own crew. Two hundred sixteen Lexington crewmen died as a result of the Japanese aerial bombardment.

Although Japan would go on to occupy all of the Solomon Islands, its victory was a Pyrrhic one: The cost in experienced pilots and aircraft carriers was so great that Japan had to cancel its expedition to Port Moresby, Papua, as well as other South Pacific targets.

“The Battle of the Coral Sea begins,” The History Channel website, 2009, [accessed May 3, 2009]

May 2009
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