Woody Woodpecker

Woody Woodpecker

I have only seen a Pileated Woodpecker a handful of times in my life and now I think (hope) I have one living in my yard. This is beyond special!

I started catching glimpses of this illusive bird but never long enough to get a picture. Now it is multiple times a week and I have gotten several pictures.

I have a large walnut tree at the edge of the yard that has been trying to die for years. It was rotten and struggling to live when we got married way back yonder. I wanted to cut the tree down but not Gene. He wanted to give the tree a chance. It really was a sorry looking tree and I knew the tree was not going to survive much longer and planted a maple beside it for replacement. (For the story of the tree click on the link at the bottom of the post). For forty-nine years the walnut tree has defied expectations and lived; not only lived but grown. There was no way that black walnut tree was going to bow down to a spindly maple tree. The main trunk is half dead and makes a wonderful woodpecker habitat. I suspect that is where Woody has rented a condo.

Woody spends a fair amount of time sitting in one area of the yard pecking furiously at the ground and tossing the dirt back over his head. It lands several feet behind him.

I goggled information about a Pileated Woodpecker. The female looks like the male except he has a red strip on the side of his cheek right behind its beak. I am wondering when Woody is going to show off his wife! They drill a distinctive rectangle shaped hole in a rotten tree. I will have to check out my tree and see if I can find his home address. They are very fond of carpenter ants and other insects. According to goggle, in the winter each woodpecker excavates its own hole and roosts by itself. The male may hang out the same hole they used for nesting as the young birds have already grown up and dispersed. I am hoping the male likes my yard and will bring his mate to live here.

This is a really cute two minute youtube video of Pileated chicks at the nest. The call of the Pileated is shrill and choppy, reminding me of my male guinea.

The Pileated Woodpecker, measuring 16-19 inches in length, is the largest  woodpecker found in North America. It looks as big as a crow. Their bill, which is as long as its head, acts like a chisel to chip wood away to make their homes in trunks of large, rotten trees. They start nesting at one year of age and will hatch eggs between May 13 and June 15. They rarely use the same nest over again and nest construction takes 3-6 weeks. They may used wood chips but do not use any lining material for the nest. They can live up to nine years if they survive the hawks, coyotes, foxes and other hungry predators.

The Tale of Two Trees

1 Comment »

  1. I had a pileated wood pecker land on my deck railing once…..he was huge and gorgeous


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