Saturday, February 28, 2015

Pileated Woodpecker

This handsome Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) returned to our backyard feeders this afternoon to enjoy a little suet before going on with his busy schedule. Whether it is PIE-leated or PILL-leated it makes little difference because it is this magnificent bird that draws our attention and not it's name.
The red cheek stripe indicated this is a crow sized, male, Pileated Woodpecker. The word "pileated" means crested.

Early last spring I spent a few minutes under a decaying tree that was being shredded by a pileated woodpecker as it searched for it's favorite food - carpenter ants. I was surprised by the quantity and large size of the wood chunks raining down on my head as I chased the woodpecker around the tree in order to get that perfect photo.  Pileated woodpeckers seem to have a preference for sassafras trees which will often show the rectangular feeding holes of the pileated as apposed to the round nesting holes.  Pileated woodpeckers are North America's largest woodpecker (assuming that the Ivory Billed Woodpecker, Campephilus principilas, is now extinct).