At the end of April, these early mornings are dark and still cold. Motionless in my camouflage attire, I wait for the morning light and hope for a glimpse of a small black and white bird with a scarlet head. Imperceptibly, a ray of diffuse light begins to softly shine through the leaves making uncertain shapes the dusky light. In the distance, several birds begin to sing coaxing the trees out of their dreams.

Dawn breaks, and the first rays of sunlight settle on the highest branches. It's the same story everywhere. From the grass to the treetops, the entire woods vibrate with life. Nature welcomes me into her private chamber and as I savor the rare privilege of these precious moments, suddenly my patience is rewarded ! Somewhere not far above my head, he's there... a red-bellied woodpecker is calling out for a mate.

The day before I had noticed a few holes in this tree trunk where he's perched, and for several days thereafter, I observe his constant ritual. First, he sits near the hole he's dug out of the trunk or on a neighboring branch from which he relentlessly calls out for a mate. From time to time he dives into the hole only to stick his head out and call again. Between each cry, he surveys the surrounding area for a female. When he gets hungry, he'll disappear for a while In search of food but always return to the tree he's chosen. This pattern can go on for days until he succeeds in attracting a mate.