Saturday, May 25, 2013

Pileated Woodpecker at Our Suet Log

A wish came true this week, as twice we have seen a pileated woodpecker at the suet log that hangs from the maple tree in front of our house -- and today I was able to grab my camera and capture the moment. The first time, last Sunday, I posted on Facebook about the impact of the sighting: "Freaking amazing - first-ever sighting of a pileated woodpecker at our house a few minutes ago, feeding from a log-style suet feeder. Our jaws were down around our knees."



This is a huge woodpecker, nearly the size of a crow. I've only seen a pileated a handful of times before, and until now not anywhere near this close. When seen in flight from below, it shows large areas of white bordered with black. In February I wrote about one I'd seen flying in our neighborhood, and included someone else's terrific YouTube video that shows the striking black and white wings in flight.



It's a female, incidentally. The red cap on a male extends down in front all the way to the top of the bill, and males also have a red "mustache" where the female has a black marking at the side of the bill. Biologist and bird-bander Dan Tallman captured, literally, a male pileated woodpecker in his banding net a few miles from here recently and has a great photo of it here. Actually, it turned out that he had recaptured it; it bore a band showing he had banded it in 2010.

For size contrast, see below on this same suet log a red-bellied woodpecker, which at roughly the size of an American robin is a good-sized bird in its own right. At 9 inches in length compared to the pileated's 15.7 to 19.3 inches, it is only about half the length of the pileated and weighs only a quarter as much.


By the way, pileated can be pronounced either with a long or short initial I: py-lee-ated or pill-ee-ated, though the long-I pronunciation is listed first in both the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and the American Heritage Dictionary. The word essentially means with a crest, or cap.

We are thrilled that we now seem to be familiar territory for this impressive bird and that we can add the pileated woodpecker to our "yard bird" list.

2 comments:

michaelswoodcraft said...

cool, nice shots!

I finally got one good picture of our Pileated Woodpecker, check it out.

Michael
Pileated Woodpeckers

Penelopedia said...

That's great, Michael!