Saturday, November 6, 2010

Pileated Woodpecker

Some readers my recall my 5 November 2009 entry in which I posted a gif of a Pileated Woodpecker giving me a hard time. My hands were also bloodied after banding this first-year male bird.  I was glad, however, to add this species to my series of white-background photographs.  I use white mat board as background when I take the pictures (although I was first inspired by taking photos of birds in front of snow drifts last winter).

Pileated Woodpeckers depend on large trees for breeding.  This dependancy becomes critical if large trees are cut out of forest stands.  Pileateds breeding in our backyard had their tree fall in the 2009 winter during a windstorm.  The birds must still be in the vicinity, since this Pileated in the second bird-of-the-year I have banded in 2010. Large trees also attract lightening (especially when surrounding trees are smaller), sometimes to the woodpeckers' detriment. Large trees come at such a premium, that pairs defend their territory all year.  Individuals do not abandon territories if their mates die.  Pileateds are also often hit by cars, since the woodpeckers often feed on or near the ground.  Despite these dangers, Pileated Woodpecker populations appear to be increasing since the mid-1960s (Bull and Jackson 1995).


  1. The inspiration for Woody Woodpecker, huh?
    Tell me please, is it pill ee ated or pie lee ated???

  2. IMHO, it is pronounced "pill ee ated."

  3. A pileated dug out a nest cavity in an oak at Vadnais Lake some years ago, successfully raising two or three young. The nest was quite easy to observe, about 50 feet off a dirt path that intersects with the paved road at the north end of Vadnais Lake. Once fledged, the youngsters and the parent(s?) hollered at each other constantly in the woods around the lake, and could often be seen flying about.
    However, the nesting pair never returned to this nest. I wonder why?

  4. The first photo reminds me yet again of the strong links between saurischians and modern-day birds.