Hard worker

You can hear the unmistakable, loud hammering of a busy Pileated Woodpecker from quite a distance. As soon as I got out of the car at the refuge, I knew he was there, and followed the sound all the way from the parking lot to the woods several hundred yards away. IMG_6334There he was – hard at work!  Here’s some cool information from iBird Plus about this bird, who is the largest Woodpecker in North America:

“Pileated Woodpeckers “drum” on hollow trees with their bills in order to claim territory. They dig rectangular holes in trees to find ants. . . They will make up to 16 holes in each tree to allow escape routes should a predator enter the tree. . . .   A group of pileated woodpeckers are collectively known as a “crown” of woodpeckers.”

I didn’t realize the wind and the chatter of another nearby bird would drown out his hammering in this video – but you can certainly see how industrious the Pileated Woodpecker is!!

18 thoughts on “Hard worker

  1. Thanks BJ for anothert interesting post, since we do not have these birds it is a bonus for me. Do these birds actually affect the tree in any adverse way? Do they actually make holes in the tree, like the one in the movie above its head? Are these nesting sites, or just hideholes?

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    • I’m happy to hear this was a new bird and interesting for you, AB. What great questions! Pileated Woodpeckers mainly eat carpenter ants, termites, or other insects, and they carve out large, rectangular holes in trees to find these insects, and to create nesting sites. The holes are often used for shelter and nesting by other animals and birds later. They sometimes use dead or near-dead trees, where damage is not as problematic.

      Here is some more info from Cornell’s All About Birds site: “Both sexes drum powerfully on trees at any time of the year, typically a fairly slow, deep rolling that lasts about 3 seconds. Males drum in late winter to establish and defend a territory, both sexes drum as part of courtship, and either sex may drum to solicit mating, to summon a mate from a distance, or in response to an intruder near a nest.”

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  2. I love Pileated Woodpeckers and enjoyed your photo and the video. The hammering of these birds is almost deafening–it reminds me of the sound of a jackhammer breaking up concrete. Most of the time, I hear the Pileateds and they fly away before I am actually able to get a clear glimpse of them. I keep my eyes and ears open whenever I am in the woods, but haven’t seen or heard one in quite a few months.

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    • Oh yes…I forgot to mention the very distinctive call that Pileated Woodpeckers make. This guy actually did fly off right after the first time I saw him, but luckily he returned to the same spot so I could get a few shots of him.


  3. I always consider it an utter blessing when I come upon a pileated. Fortunately I have them on my property, and see or hear one almost every day. And I never, ever tire of it or take it for granted. How wonderful that you enjoyed the pileated so fully, BJ. That top photo is so clear and stunning, and the video is great. They are not easy to capture. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • How fortunate for you to have a pileated woodpecker so close by every day! I have found them difficult to capture in the past, except when they are so busy pounding away at a tree – they stay in one place for a while! This woodpecker was quite a ways up a tree in the woods, and I had a good view for several minutes.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Getting to know Woodpeckers | Birder's Journey

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