Saturday, March 28, 2015
Pileated Woodpeckers (PWP) are not as common as some other woodpeckers such as Downy or Red-bellied woodpeckers, but they are not uncommon either. Their favored habitat is mature deciduous forests. I know of four different locations where I can see them. They have one call that sounds very much like a "jungle bird." The most common vocalization, though, is a "kuk,kuk, kuk," which can be almost constant when they become agitated.
They are wary, but I have gotten amazingly close to one at times without spooking it. I saw this particular bird at the pond I have been visiting this winter to film puddle ducks. One side of the pond consists of a commercial area, a warehouse type area. One day, my wife and I drove into this area to see how reasonable it would be to try to access the pond from that side. As we drove on the edge of the driveway closest to the pond, we stopped to evaluate our options. All of a sudden, not ten feet away, a pileated appeared on a tree at eye level. We were able to watch him for a couple minutes without scaring him. He was actually so close, I couldn't film him and the minimum distance for that lens is eleven feet. In other words, the bird was closer than eleven feet from us.
I am pretty sure the bird I just described is the same one pictured here. The tree in the previous image is at the top of the small knoll shown in this image. The knoll is a little promontory that sticks out into the pond. It was a tree near the building in the background of this photo where we saw the PWP up close.
Their territory is necessarily large because of the type of food they eat and I don't think they tolerate others of the same species in their chosen area. Once he landed in the big tree, he cautiously made his way from one tree to the next, moving lower with each change.
His final destination was the base of this tree where a root of the tree must be in decay. He spent quite a while searching for insects and carefully surveying the area to make sure everything was okay. A common name for them in the not-too-distant past was "logcock." You have to look carefully to see him in this image.
After perhaps fifteen minutes, he shinnied back up the tree and flew back over the pond and out of sight. Because they are almost always surrounded by trees, it is difficult to get shots of them in flight, so I was pleased that he flew over the pond out in the open. Coincidentally, I saw the male that lives right around our home just before writing this. He was alone so I'm thinking his mate is on a nest. They are normally inseparable.