National Geographic : 1966 Dec
KODACHROMEBY FREDERICKKENTTRUSLOW (C N.G .S. Vaulting over the edge of her topless nest, the mother takes off with her egg. In turn she carried all three to an unknown destination. I have since learned that in Oklahoma Dr. and Mrs. Frederick M. Baumgartner, professional ornithologists, once saw a yellow-shafted flicker fly off with eggs after the breaking of a branch in a windstorm uncovered the nest. John James Audubon 130 years ago reported that if the eggs of the chuck-will's-widow were disturbed the birds would carry them off in their mouths, but repeated attempts to confirm the story have failed and ornithologists today consider it discredited. So far as we can ascertain, these photographs present the first visual proof of such behavior by any bird. Then she flew off with the egg in her beak. Within two minutes she returned, backed down into the nest, immediately reappeared with a second egg in her bill-small end out -and flew off in the same direction, west. In another minute and a half she was back and did exactly the same with the third egg. Each time I could see her plainly for 75 yards before the pines hid her, and I am sure she did not drop the eggs in that distance. All had been carried away by 3:12 p.m.-just 16 minutes from the time the tree broke. It was 4:25 when Papa came home. As you 884 might expect, he seemed highly agitated, not to say incredulous-pecking the stub, backing down to the nest, drumming loudly on the trunk, and at last uttering the pileated's rapid, high-pitched alarm call. His mate did not answer, but after 10 minutes he flew off south and I saw them together on a high branch. Had she taken the eggs to one of their roost ing holes? I hoped so, for such devotion should have been rewarded. But my friends and I searched for the eggs in vain, and four days after the accident we saw proof they had been abandoned: The pair was hammering out a new nesting hole, this time in a newly installed utility pole of unquestionable soundness.