Got out of the car, grabbed the pack and camera and headed for the house. Thunk, thunk … Thunk ...Thunk sounded from behind the house. The sound of a pileated woodpecker chiseling into a dead tree on the hunt for the carpenter ants or beetle larvae within; it sounded as if it was high in a tree.
There it was, way up in a tulip-poplar chipping into a large dead limb –
The bird had a black “mustache” mark on its cheek, extending from the base of the bill, which marked this bird as a female –
She continued working on the dead limb and moved to another spot on the limb as she fed –
Surprisingly she continued working as I slowly approached and, unsuccessfully, maneuvered for a view unblocked by small branches –
She repeatedly chopped into the dead limb, rearing back as pileated woodpeckers do to deliver a forceful strike –
Each time the bird thrust its beak into the wood inertia caused its crest to fly forward –
Meanwhile from not far behind me another pileated woodpecker called repeatedly and then swooped in to land on a nearby red maple. The tree had a small hole indicative of an internal problem –
This woodpecker was a male as shown by his red “mustache”.
The hole warranted an examination by the new arrival –
He proceeded to go to work on the tree searching for the insects in the tree’s decayed interior –
Watch the chips fly –
Pileated woodpeckers are often quite wary, but some tolerate humans. This pair, which resides in the neighborhood, puts up with its human neighbors most of the time. We’re glad to have them here.