News and notes from Reston (tm).

Friday, October 10, 2014

All Hail the Pileated Woodpecker, The (Almost) Official Bird of Reston

Reston birdThe votes are in, and it looks like the official bird of our earth-toned community will have a decidedly DRB-unfriendly red streak. Give us some good blockquote, BFFs at Patch:

Friends of Reston has announced that out of five birds nominated to be the Official Bird of Reston, the Pileated Woodpecker has received the most votes... The Pileated Woodpecker received 632 votes (23%). In second place was the Eastern Bluebird with 597 votes (22%). In third to fifth place were the American Goldfinch with 514 votes (19%), the Barred Owl with 474 votes (17%), and the Great Blue Heron with 431 votes (16%). These close results validate the selection of nominated birds, which Reston naturalists chose for year-round presence, ease of recognition and beauty.

“There wasn’t a loser among them,” said Katie Shaw, Executive Director of Friends of Reston.
Except for the ones who, you know, lost. And sadly, none of our humble suggestions seemed to catch fire in a write-in landslide.

Incredibly, this election received more than 2,700 votes -- which isn't too far off from the turnout for non-avian elections 'round these here parts.

This contentious decision now goes to the RA Board for approval. Once it's approved -- we're not talking about goats, after all -- we can look forward to some more fun for the kids:
Friends of Reston will add the Pileated Woodpecker as one of Reston’s mascots, joining Earl the Squirrel and Myrtle the Turtle as a character at special events. So far, the favored name for the new mascot is Walker the Woodpecker.
Sounds... copyright-friendly!

So what can we learn about our new official leader? The Internets tell us this:
This beneficial, adaptable bird is Virginia’s largest woodpecker, as large as a crow, reaching a size of 16 – 19 inches long with a wing span of 26 – 30 inches across. They are mainly black with a prominent red crest and a white stripe along their throat. They are noted for their loud ‘laugh’ of a call and the drumming sound they make when pecking into wood to find insects, show off, and proclaim their territory.
Those of us lucky enough to have one of them near our homes know that sound all too well:



  1. I would not recommend playing the YouTube video.

  2. A pileated is perfect for Reston. Reston provides the birds with ample amounts of rotted cedar siding caused from overhanging, overgrown trees that the RA didn't let cut over the years.

  3. How about an official Reston plant too? We would highly nominate "Reston's Poison Ivy", an indigenous plant thriving on our local paths. AND it must be great because it's not an invasive.

  4. There's another bird species not unique to Reston which can be found, appallingly, in grocery stores and restaurants with salad bars and other buffet-style food serving areas.
    This bird, unofficially known as the Finger-Licking Grazer, grabs a food item such as a cherry tomato, a piece of chicken, a taste of barbecue or potato or both, eats it, licks his fingers, then reaches back in for more.
    We saw one of these the other day at an upscale Reston grocery store. He prowled around the hot bar and helped himself to about eight different items from the various types of dinner-style food offered at the hot bar, reaching into the food serving dish, grabbing an item, eating it, licking his fingers, then reaching back into it for more.
    He didn't put any of the items into a container for purchase, and he didn't have a shopping cart or basket anywhere in sight. He was apparently just eating without any intention of paying for the food.
    This behavior facilitates the spread of germs and puts other customers at risk. We wonder what the county health department thinks of this, and what they will do about it. It's currently flu season, and such behavior could likely spread flu, and other problems such as e.coli. So far, there's no ebola around here, but ebola is spread by contact with bodily fluid, and saliva from someone's fingers is a bodily fluid.
    The "gentleman" we saw the other day didn't appear to be homeless or hungry or in need. He looked like other sixtyish white guys in Reston, dressed casually for the weekend in a dark blue sweatshirt and jeans, short and somewhat dumpy, with thinning grayish hair and glasses.
    Has anyone else spotted this bird or others engaged in such behavior? This behavior shows a callous disregard for the health and well-being of the community, and we hope some effective measures can be put in place to stop it.
    We did speak to the store manager about this, and he took it seriously and will try to make sure it doesn't happen any more, at least in that grocery store. This particular grocery store is very good about giving free sample of food to customers who ask, which makes the behavior of the Finger-Licking Grazer even more incomprehensible.
    We didn't try to confront the Finger-Licking Grazer ourselves, because that's generally not a good idea. There are a lot of nut cases out there.
    However, if someone sees this behavior and has a cellphone camera handy, maybe he or she could (unobtrusively) take a short video and give it to the store manager and/or the health department. (YouTube, anyone?)

  5. Hates Woody Woodecker CartoonsOctober 13, 2014 at 2:37 PM

    My satellite dish lets me receive hundreds of channels, all the woodpecker does is wake me up (rat-a-tat)... The voters were wrong on this one. No stupid woodpecker can get me the NFL Package, after all!


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