Editor Note: Artist Fitz Maurice has set out to paint live at all of the US National Parks. She will be submitting her stories from the road to StuNewsLaguna from time to time. 

Fitz Maurice: “If I didn’t go outside, I’d have missed it”

It never would have happened if I didn’t go outside and open myself up to the sights and sounds of nature. As I allowed my senses to fully open to the beauty of the day, and gave myself time to tune in to what was happening, I experienced a marvel of wildlife happening right under my nose.

It was exciting to capture this photograph of an Acorn Woodpecker – and not easy to do!


It seems like the minute you point a camera at a bird, it takes off in flight.

I went outside my camper as I kept hearing the sounds of baby birds chirping. Ever so quietly I got out the binoculars and sat very still. After a time I was able to detect which tree the Woodpecker flew into. He flew to the nest and was in it before I could even click a shot. Then I got determined and worked out a plan.

For what felt like ages, I watched for that woodpecker to enter the nest. With camera pressed up to my eye, I focused on the hole in the branch hole he flew into. Then I patiently waited for him to fly out – and I swear the camera gained weight every minute.

Suddenly there he was poking his face out, for just an instant before he took flight and swooped out of sight. Breathlessly I snapped the shot – and here is his adorable little face and red hair-do!

Acorn Woodpeckers are common throughout the west.  The handsome males have a white forehead and a red crown; the female has a black bar in front of the red crown. Woodpecker groups are made up of siblings, their cousins and their parents. They love oak trees and mountain forests.

Once all of the eggs have been laid (usually 4-6 eggs), they leave the eggs alone.  The eggs are then incubated by all the members of their community.  When the eggs hatch, the nestlings are also fed by all of the community. This explains why I heard so much chirping – there was an entire community of woodpeckers feeding these young throughout the day!

Here I am again, encouraging all of you to go outside. Look and listen for the sights and sounds of nature. We can be one with the rhythms of the seasons; when the sun rises; what phase the moon is in; and what wildlife is just outside our door waiting to greet us!

I encourage You to listen and gently respond to the birds in your area – They see You everyday – and You will be surprised – when You start paying attention – the birds will pay attention to You !

TRY IT – Let me know what happens ?Woodpecker-two



FITZ Maurice has been on a quest to paint ‘live’ in every National Park in America. Now totally committed to help promote and protect the Parks, the artist is traveling by truck and trailer to each park. Hiking, kayaking and horseback riding in search of the ultimate scene, and finally setting up with portable easel and oil paints, FITZ sets out to capture in paint the wonders that make each National Park a treasure to Americans and all the people of the world.