Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Pileated Woodpecker

I went birding in my favorite park yesterday, Eagle Creek Park in far west Indianapolis. Before the day was over, I enjoyed an almost mystical meeting, up close and personal, with a pileated woodpecker, one of the largest woodpeckers in the USA.

I was sitting on a trail observing the trees around me and listening to the birds. Suddenly, out of no where, this majestic black and white bird with a bright red crest landed on a rotten stump less than six feet from where I sat.

I know he saw me because he looked directly at me. But this beautiful bird simply continued searching for insects in the stump. He stayed with me about five minutes, shifting to three other stumps within a radius of about 10 feet. He almost seemed tame.

Some interesting facts about the pileated woodpecker:

  • The Pileated Woodpecker digs characteristically rectangular holes in trees to find ants. These excavations can be so broad and deep that they can cause small trees to break in half.
  • A Pileated Woodpecker pair stays together on its territory all year round. It will defend the territory in all seasons, but will tolerate floaters during the winter.
  • The feeding excavations of a Pileated Woodpecker are so extensive that they often attract other birds. Other woodpeckers, as well as House Wrens, may come and feed there.
  • The Pileated Woodpecker prefers large trees for nesting. In young forests, it will use any large trees remaining from before the forest was cut. Because these trees are larger than the rest of the forest, they present a lightning hazard to the nesting birds.

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