The Pileated Woodpecker is our largest local woodpecker. He was the inspiration for the cartoon drawing AND extremely loud voice of Woody Woodpecker. If you think you’re hearing Woody Woodpecker in the forest or even in a suburban backyard, it’s a Pileated. If you see a crow-size black bird with big white stripes and a dramatic bright red crest, it’s her. If it also has a red stripe on its cheek, it’s him. They loudly whack and drum away with their mighty beaks on dead trees and logs in search of yummy insects. Carpenter ants are their favorite meal.
The awesome pile of rectangular chips at the base of this dead maple is the closest thing we’ve seen this winter to remind us of snow. They are the work of a hungry pileated. The chips are easily identified because of their unique rectangular shape. (Sorry about the trash in the photo. I didn’t notice it this morning but I’ll pick it up this afternoon.)
I will also try to remember to take a photo of a chip next to my ‘measuring’ pocket knife. Many of these chips are 1.5 inches or longer.
This photo shows one of several locations where he or she chopped away at the dead maple to create the impressive’ snowfall’ at the base.
The pileated is easy to identify even if you don’t see it. Listen for its loud drumming and its crazy loud whinnying , laughing “Woody Woodpecker” voice. Watch for piles of rectangular chips at the base of dead trees. They are really obvious! Rectangular holes in trees indicate that a pileated has nested there. Once you find a nest hole, keep an eye on it. Even if you don’t see a piliated occupying it next Spring, you might discover other birds like swifts, owls, ducks or bats using it.
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