Animals in Fall: The Pileated Woodpecker

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By: Guest Writer Michael Teton

Photo by: Ray Owens

Have you ever seen small mounds of wood chips at the base of trees? If you live in the Pacific Northwest, during the fall season that tree is probably the new home of a Pileated Woodpecker! This species of woodpecker is non-migratory, meaning that it does not fly south for the winter. They excavate holes in several different trees that they will nest in throughout the cold winter. During the fall season, listen for a low-pitched drumming that fluctuates in speed and you just might find a Pileated Woodpecker.  

These woodpeckers are recognizable by their red crest and large size. In fact, they are one of the largest species of woodpecker. Their wingspan is over two feet long so they are easy to spot while in flight. Pairs of Pileated Woodpeckers mate for life and usually stay within their nesting range year-round. Their food of preference is the carpenter ant that they excavate from large dead wood using their long chisel-like bills. The holes that they make from feeding are so large that many other animals use them for shelter. They live in a dense deciduous forest with large trees which makes SHADOW Lake Nature Preserve and ideal home for these noisy neighbors.  

Want more knowledge? Follow the links below! 

Youtube: Woodpecker Pecking a Big Hole in a Tree
Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Pileated Woodpecker
Seattle Public Utilities: Measurements of Success- Woodpeckers