Ring of Fire

A ray of light illuminates the red crest of the silhouetted form of a ladder-backed woodpecker perched in a tree on the Chuckwagon Trail in McDowell Sonoran Preserve in Scottsdale, Arizona in February 2020

There is a species of woodpecker in the desert I’ve glimpsed so briefly that it wasn’t until two months ago I could put a name to its face. After seeing them a few times recently I decided Sunday morning to try for a picture in the early light, heading to the one section of the one trail where I’ve seen them. The sun was just cresting the mountains, not yet illuminating the desert floor, when I stopped in my tracks as a ring of fire flashed atop the silhouetted form before me, a ray of light illuminating the red crest of a ladder-backed woodpecker.

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