Wednesday, May 11, 2022

HUNTLEY MEADOWS - WEDNESDAY - 4-25-22 - THE PILEATED WOODPECKER

Standing with an equally interested and interesting group of people, I had been shown where to find the Pileated Woodpecker.  A pair had been observed, male and female, one flying away and the other staying and guarding their chicks.  One would return and the other would leave.  I saw a flash of wings when I first arrived and knew I had spotted something special.  I was very thankful to those who shared what it was.   

These birds are most commonly found in the eastern and southern portions of the United States, and are considered one of the largest woodpeckers in North America.  They measure from 15.8 to 19.3 inches (40-49 cm) in length.  There was once an Ivory-billed Woodpecker which was recognized as the largest in North America, but sadly it was announced extinct as recently as 2021.  The Pileated took its place and is now considered to be the largest here.  Added note on  5-11-22 at 6:58 a.m: you can read an interesting article at this link.  It is written by Kenn Kaufmann, a birding expert and Audubon Field Editor, who talks about the Ivory-billed Woodpecker.  A quote from him on its extinction: "My head says that the species is extinct, but my heart won't accept that..."  One thing I noticed when looking at my photos later on the laptop screen, was the entrance to their nest.  It was a large rectangular hole.  This is a sign that Pileated Woodpeckers are in residence.  They use dead or old trees to carve out a cavity. When it is used for a nest it is more oblong.

Once they find a partner, Pileated Woodpeckers will mate for life. Like other birds, they perform interesting displays of courtship.  This is how the males attract females, such as flight displays, head swinging, raising of the crest feathers, and spreading their wings to reveal white patches.  The oldest known Pileated Woodpecker was a male, and at least 12 years, 11 months old when he was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Maryland.  When I first arrived and when asked by a photographer what I had seen, I had mentioned the white patches on the wings.  He had told me that it sounded like the male.

Both mom and dad Pileated Woodpeckers are hands on in tending to their young and will have 3 to 5 eggs which are white.  They feed their babies a variety of regurgitated insects, fruit and nuts.  During nesting season they will defend their territory from predators and other bird species, and will make loud drumming sounds and calls to deter any threat.

Unlike other male and female bird species that typically differ in color, male and female Pileated Woodpeckers are very similar and both have the red top-knot on their heads.  However, males can be easily identified by the bright red stripe on the sides of their face.  

And so, I am guessing the bird in my photo is the female as they have a black stripe on their cheeks, rather than the red.

I would like to thank the Bird Feeder Hub (link here).  You can read much more if you go to their website.

Thanks for looking and I wish you all a very happy day.



38 comments:

  1. Very good photos! for sure a large and impressive bird! This is the first time you have seen one? You won't ever forget it.

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    1. Thank you Ginny, they certainly are. It was the second time I had seen one, the first was years ago and the third time happened a couple of days later in my own back yard. You're right, I really won't ever forget it :)

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    1. Hi Cloudia and thank you :) They are fun to listen to.

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  3. What an amazing and beautiful bird. And how sad to learn of yet another extinction.

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  4. Interesting to know about the woodpecker.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it Margaret, thank you :)

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  5. Yes!!! And can I state right here, right now, how incredibly jealous I am?!!

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    1. Thanks Anni, it was one of those gifts in nature I will never take for granted :)

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  6. I guess that female birds prefer the bright colour in male :-)) Those pictures are beautiful, Denise.

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    1. They certainly do seem to attract a mate :) Thanks Angie :)

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  7. Muito bem apanhado este belo pica-pau.
    Gostei.
    Um abraço e continuação de uma boa semana.

    Andarilhar
    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa
    O prazer dos livros

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    1. Fico feliz que tenha gostado do pica-pau. Muito obrigado! Um abraço e desejo-te uma continuação de boa semana :)

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  8. Hello Denise,
    The Pileated Woodpecker is one of my favorite birds. I often see them in my yard, they are very loud birds. Great series of photos. Take care, have a great day!

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    1. How wonderful Eileen, I would be over the moon to see this bird on a regular basis. Thank you and you take care and have a great day also :)

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  9. she is a fine specimen and so is that tree she is in. I love the bark texture.

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  10. Interesting to see the woodpecker. We don't see them here in Hawaii.

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  11. I have only seen one of these birds once, Denise, so thanks for all the information you presented and the photos as well. Maybe on another trip you will actually see the chicks.

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    1. Thank you Dorothy and you are veery welcome :) I am hopeful seeing the chicks as we do intend to go there again soon.

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  12. What a handsome bird -- and a really gorgeous photo. Sometimes it's so hard to capture them well, up high or at distance. This is a beauty.

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    1. Thank you so much Jeanie, I was very lucky to see him and he stayed long enough for these photos :)

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  13. Lots of pileateds here. they're a very cool bird...quite tame.

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    1. They are very cool Red but I didn't know they were quite tame :)

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  14. Great information, Denise! I didn't realize the ivory billed woodpecker was extinct. How sad. So glad you were able to take these lovely photos of the pileated woodpecker. They really are so interesting to view.

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    1. Thank you, and happy you enjoyed reading it Martha Ellen :) Yes, it was sad about the ivory billed woodpecker.

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  15. It does look larger than the woodpeckers we see around here. Great shots.

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    1. Thank you Ellen, I was surprised how big it was :)

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  16. I've been close to one of those woodpeckers once. Kept it company while it recovered its senses after knocking into a window.

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