Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Pileated at Last!

We are digging out this morning after another big storm (that is my husband is digging out...) and it will not be a good trail walking day. Yesterday, I took advantage of a lull between weather systems and went to the Huron Natural Area which is right in the city only a couple of minutes from our home. I had seen fresh evidence of a Pileated Woodpecker a month ago and posted this picture. It has been difficult to get back to the area since then.

The trails were very icy as we had a day of rain on Monday and then a flash freeze. I do love my Yaktraks! Once again, the woods were very, very quiet without even the cheerful song of the Chickadee. The trees creaked in the cold wind but I could hear no woodpeckers at work.

There were plenty of fresh holes and I saw these wood chips below a tall deciduous tree. These were created very recently. I heard a strange sound ahead, one that I did not recognize. Perhaps there was a quail or wild turkey in the distance. Following the noise led me right to a very busy, very loud Pileated Woodpecker. This Cornell University link has a good example of the call. The wood was so soft in the large holes where the bird was working that there was no hammering sound at all.

The tree was half way up an icy hill and I couldn't get as close as I would have liked to, but the bird worked away for the next thirty minutes until I was thoroughly chilled.

It really does remind me of a prehistoric creature.

Another new bird for my list during this endless winter. Some people are lucky enough to have these birds come to them at feeding stations. We have to work a little harder to see birds here in the north but this icy walk was well worth the effort!


  1. Hello, my name is Jessica and I live in southern Michigan. I came across your blog by doing a blog search of bird watching. The pileated woodpecker is one of my favorites. I saw one a few weeks ago while we were on vacation in northern Michigan.

    Enjoyed your blog.

  2. Hurray! You got some terrific photos of one of my favorite birds.

  3. Nice photos! Aren't they just amazing to watch. Did you have binoculars? So interesting to see the tongue action as they go for a goody!!!

  4. Congratulations-very nice photos!I haven't been able to get photos as good as that despite seeing quite a few Pileated Woodpeckers over the last few years.-They sure do make some serious holes and have a call that sounds like something out of a jungle movie.

  5. That's so exciting that you saw this. Those holes are huge! Good thing it wasn't someone's house it was working on =)

  6. Anonymous9:22 pm GMT-5

    how exciting to have seen this huge woodpecker! Thanks for sharing and I am so excited for you!

  7. Ruth! You braved the ice and snow for a good reason. Wow. I've never seen a pilated woodpecker. You are very fortunate. I'm amazed by the work they do.


  8. Great shot.

    I was listening to the woods last month and heard a woodpecker. I didn't see it for a while but at last it flew by. It was a Pileated woodpecker. It landed in a tree that had a branch blocking my view. I wasn't able to get a photo.

    O well, maybe another day.

  9. Hi Jessica- Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I see you enjoy outdoor winter activities...vacation in N. Michigan ;-)

    Lynne- There must be some at Hasty Brook. I was happy to get a couple of clear shots of a very active bird.

    CS- I caught the bird with my bins first, but the head was so far in those big holes that I saw no tongue action I can't imagine what was in there!

    Larry- You describe the sound is a jungle noise for sure. This bird was very high in a tree, but I was fortunate enough to be on a hill so the distance wasn't so great for a heavily zoomed shot.

    Rondi- Downy Woodpeckers have made a lot of holes in our wood siding, but this bird would be devastating to a wood panel for sure.

    Monarch- Thanks! Huge it was. I was amazed at the size.

    Mary- It is easier to see birds on bare winter trees. It was so cold and nasty that no one else was on the trail. That may be why I saw the bird.

    Scott- I would have been very happy just to see this bird, but the pictures were a nice bonus. Thanks for visiting and commenting.

  10. She's just beautiful Ruth! So glad you were able to get so close and watch her at work.

  11. OMG!!!! That is beyond beautiful. What a great story as you lead us on your expedition.

  12. Beautiful looks - lucky you Ruth!

  13. Hi Ruth,
    Congrats on the Pileated! They are such a neat bird and I'm glad you were able to get such good pics to share with us.


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