Sunday, March 20, 2011

Pileated Woodpeckers Create Tree Mulch

 Pileated Woodpeckers are the largest woodpeckers in Minnesota--really in North America, unless the Ivory Bill still actually exists.  Pileateds are the size of a crow and are impressive and beautiful birds.  They are not uncommon, but they are shy and keep from sight as much as possible.  This male is one of the pair that live at Springbrook.  I was able to take these pictures a couple of days ago at the bird feeder area at the nature center. The female kept out of sight behind the tree.  The male is identified by the red extending back from the beak.  In the female this line is black.
 In this picture you can see how woodpeckers use their stiff tail feathers as a prop to hold their body away from the tree while looking for food.
The red crest is very bold on these birds, and is raised or lowered depending on the birds level of excitement.

As you can see in the pictures below this pair of woodpeckers have ravaged a number of trees during the winter while looking for the insect larvae inside that provide them with enough nourishment to survive snowy and cold winters.
 This tree was shredded inside and out looking for the grubs that were living inside.  This is a common sign that Pileated woodpeckers live in an area.  I took both of these pictures in the last few days at Springbrook on the trails.  From the trails you can see the evidence left by the Pileateds all along the wooded areas.  Piles of fresh wood mulch on the ground at the base of a tree is proof that these woodpeckers are visitors to the area.
This cavity was over four feet long with the obvious huge pile of wood chips on the ground in front of it.  Another cavity just as long was immediately above this one, but had been done at least a year ago.

If I could just get these woodpeckers to make mulch for my gardens like this!  But I hope the trees in my yard don't have this many insects living inside.

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