Pileated vs Ponderosa

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by Skip Via

Male pileated woodpecker. The red crest on males extends all the way to the bill, and you can see a red mustache under the eyes.

Pileated woodpeckers are the largest North American woodpeckers, and we’re fortunate to be able to see (and hear) them year ’round here in the valley.

Pileated woodpeckers mainly eat insects, ants and bark beetles being their preferred foods. They’ll also eat seeds, berries and nuts. They can devour a suet stash in short order and will even come to seed feeders on occasion.

They live in heavily wooded areas, especially those with lots of snags that attract insects. The Pig Farm (see Locations) is a great place to encounter them. Their nest cavities are large, usually roughly rectangular, and may have more than one entrance. They build new nests each year and their old nests are used by other cavity nesters as large as wood ducks, buffleheads, and some owls.

And as you can see in the video below, they have a jackhammer approach to finding food and building nests. This fellow is looking for insects in a ponderosa pine. Watch closely and you’ll see him stop every so often to consume whatever morsels he’s finding. He even searches the detritus on the ground for any bugs he may have missed.

And they work fast. The bark on the ground under this tree took less than an hour to accumulate.

That ponderosa doesn’t stand a chance…

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