Wednesday, March 19

The Pileated Woodpecker: a giant among woodpeckers

Crossposted to Birding New England

The first time I ever saw a Pileated woodpecker, it was a breathtaking sight. The pair of them were feeding in the large maple in our yard and when they flew off, they were nearly silent.

It took me a few years before I managed to actually capture them in photo, but I'm glad I was able to pull it off. Since then, I've managed to get photos of them with limited success.

I think, though, that my favorite thing about the Pileateds is their range of sounds. They have a fairly standard woodpecker "laugh" (which I think of as more of a high-pitched rattle), but unlike the hairy and the downy woodpeckers, their call is a trill which remains constant in pitch. While the Hairy Woodpecker makes a call that you can hear trilling and then trailing off, changing pitch at the end, the Pileated's is constant throughout, making them easy to hear from a distance if you get the knack for it.

Then there's another call they make which is more like a staccato slow chatter that is such a *deep* pitch that it rattles the bones a bit.

I'm going to close with one more photo at the end. When Pileated's dig into trees, they do major excavating, creating huge holes in the trees, digging out large chunks of wood. The photo below is of a pileated in mid-excavation, with the actual piece of wood still in its beak:

As usual, all these photos are smaller versions. Clicking on them brings you to the site with the full sized versions and more details.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Woody Woodpecker was a pileated!