Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Pileated Woodpecker

You tend hear their calls before you see them, if you get a chance to see them, as they tend to be a bit elusive.

But during an early morning hike, at one of my state parks, I sighted a Pileated Woodpecker.

I hear their calls in my neighborhood but have never had the luck of seeing one. And the only time I did, was at state park in South Carolina. It was early morning when I heard a call, then saw three flying low through the trees. Three. It was spellbinding as they are impressive birds. But, I was not camera-ready. This time I was.

I heard the call, quickly located the direction of the sound, then spotted him flying through the forest. I followed with my eyes and watched him land about three-quarters up the height of a tree.

The early morning sun was at a low angle, illuminating the top branches, leaving his head in light and his body in shadows. 

In the glint of the morning rays, his red crest glowed.

He stayed motionless, except for his head, which he turned back and forth in the light while he listened to the calls of another Pileated Woodpecker.

He was magnificent. 

The Pileated Woodpecker is the largest woodpecker in the United States, as large as a crow, with beautiful white, black and red markings. It was not always the largest woodpecker. 

That title was held by the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, which is now believed to be extinct.

Here's a comparison of the Pileated Woodpecker (top) and the Ivory-billed Woodpecker (bottom).

My first blog entry was a sad lament about the loss of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Ode to the Ivory-billed Woodpecker.

It was hunted for specimens and for its long chisel-like beak. Its home, the southern bottom land hardwood forests, was taken, when the forests were logged out in the early 1900s. It had no where to live, which is the demise of many species when their habitat is destroyed.

Trees are the lifeblood of woodpeckers and many other species. Take the trees and you take whole worlds.

I, too, speak for the trees and for the worlds they sustain.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.”
Dr. Seuss, The Lorax


  1. Hi Cynthia,
    I see y ou are in North Carolina, I am in upstate South Carolina. We have a family of Pileated Woodpeckers living near our home. I finally got one good picture, take a look.

    Pileated Woodpeckers

  2. Hi Michael, Thank you for the link. Wonderful photo!