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Monday, April 7, 2008

A Nice Surprise

A new sound has been added to these spring woods. We hear it in the mornings and then again in the evenings. The very loud kuk-kuk-kuk call of the woodpecker, together with the resonant drumming to mark its territory or signal a mate grabs everyone's attention and shakes us out of any remaining winter doldrums and reveries.

Yesterday, while out enjoying the warm afternoon sun with my dog, we happened on the Pileated Woodpecker. He gave a quick "kuk" call, but I couldn't see anything through the brush. After I took my dog home, I looked for the woodpecker and found him on a standing dead poplar tree chipping away at the wood. My last sighting of the pileated was on March 19/08. (please click on pictures to enlarge)

Pileated Woodpecker, male

White chin and a long bill

Investigating the tree

Distinctive red crest
The male woodpecker has a red forehead
as well as a red moustache stripe

Digging into a crevice
White stripe along his neck

Pileated Woodpeckers make their nests in excavated cavities in mature dead or living trees. There are usually 2 - 4 plain white eggs that hatch in 15 - 18 days. Both parents incubate the eggs during the day, and the male sits on the eggs during the night. The young woodpeckers are ready to leave the nest and test their wings in a month's time.