Friday, February 10, 2006

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker - Dryocopus pileatus
You can pronounce pileated two ways, with a short i-sound (pill-ee-ated) or a long i-sound (pile-ee-ated).
About fifteen inches long, nearly as large as a crow, the pileated woodpecker is one of the largest woodpeckers found in North America. Its loud ringing calls wake me most mornings. I can often find where it has been working by the huge, rectangular excavations left behind in dead trees.

It has a black body, a red crest, white stripes on its neck and black and white stripes on its face. Yellow bristly feathers over its nostrils keep out wood chips. It has a long, sticky tongue; a long, sharp pointed bill and yellow eyes. Their foreheads provide the clues to the males and females: males have a red forehead, while the females have a gray to yellowish brown forehead.

Although the pileated woodpecker is designed for clinging to the sides of trees, it is a strong flyer. It "drums" on hollow trees with its bill to claim territory.

A large part of the pileated woodpecker’s diet is made up of carpenter ants and beetle larvae, although it will also eat other insects, fruits and nuts. Using its sharp bill it will pull bark off a tree to expose ant colonies. Then uses its long, sticky tongue to poke into holes and drag out the ants. It also digs out large rectangular holes in trees to create roosting and nesting spots and to expose insects.

The other day when the pileated pulled a large chunk of bark off a white pine snag he provided dinner for dozens of small birds, other woodpeckers and woods creatures who share his taste for ants and larvae.

A Pileated Woodpecker pair stays together on its territory all year round. They prefer large trees in a wooded area for nesting. Once they have chosen their territory they will defend it against all comers; although they are a bit more tolerant of floaters during the winter months.


Anonymous Wendi said...

Beautiful, aren't they? That crest is almost impossibly red! Great shots, and a great entry. One of my favorite birds. Thanks for sharing. :)

10:14 PM  
Blogger Kara said...

What great pictures. I come here to rest because it's like going out into nature and being very quiet and taking in the surroundings.

11:24 AM  
Blogger Rexroth's Daughter said...

We don't have pileated here in the northwest. I am so glad you posted these pictures of the one you see there. What a fantastic creature. I read their wing span can be 29 inches. That's a magnificent bird. Thank you for showing us.

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Fran aka Redondowriter said...

You do have access to a computer to post after all--or maybe you archived your entries for posting in your absence. I do that when I'm traveling sometimes. I don't see woodpeckers much where I live, but sure did when I was a kid growing up in Sunland, CA. I don't know how in the heck you get this wonderful photos--with patience, I'm sure.

5:26 PM  
Blogger Gwyn said...

You are so lucky to have them grace you with their presence. Pileateds are one of my jinx birds. The one time I had a long, close look was magic--and also the moment at which my camera battery went dead!

6:32 PM  

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