I look out my front window in December just as the first big snow is falling. The fog is suspended above the snow covered ground with cold air and warm earth mixing. I suddenly see movement at the base of our tree, then a spot of red. It is a Pileated Woodpecker hammering away! My husband, daughter home from college, and I stare out the window. We frantically whisper to each other at once, “Get the camera…get the camera!” Meg clicked this picture (right). It is a dream scene.
I spot these terrific birds about 5 times a year. They fly ahead of you from tree to tree in the woods. Half the time, I see them low near the ground pecking away for grubs in trunks of trees.
Here are a few fun points about the bird.
- They are the cartoon Woody Woodpecker type of bird (unlike the Downy or Flicker woodpecker).
- The Pleated woodpeckers are about the size of a crow.
- They dig rectangular holes in trees looking for ants.
- They stay in pairs all year.
- Their feeding is so extensive that they attract other woodpeckers and wrens to the area.
- Their excavating can be so deep that they break smaller trees and in half.
- They had declined with the clearing of Eastern forests, but have been steadily coming back since the 1950’s.
Keep your eyes peeled for the red mop top and a moving black and white wing. It’s not a dream…but a cute little buddy from Nature.