Sunday, May 24, 2009

Pileated Woodpeckers on the Little Miami Bike Trail (BPW #39)

I hear Pileated Woodpeckers almost every time I go to the trail, but I don’t see them that often. They are just too shy; however, in the past 3 weeks I’ve seen a male and a female foraging together six or seven times…and at close distance! It’s like they’ve moved in and set up house or something, which is probably exactly what they’ve done. I doubt I’ll ever see their nesting cavity though, because there is no way the secretive birds would have excavated a cavity in one in the trees along the pavement (of course I can always hope...). I think they are anchored up the hillside because I hear them calling from that spot almost every time I go there.






One of my best Pileated Woodpecker memories happened earlier this spring at Spring Valley Nature Area. As I was walking down the path west of the lake, this monster bird came up from behind, sweeping overhead and directly down the corridor of trees in front of me. At 17 inches, he is a force to reckon with. Hearing the air under his wings and feeling the energy he left in his wake (being only four or five feet over my head) is a sensation I’ll never forget. Then watching him sail straight down the woodland path at about eye level was a spectacular sight.

To tell a male and female Pileated Woodpecker apart, just check 
out their mustaches. The male's is red and the female's black. 
The above photo shows the male's red mustache.

48 comments:

Nature As Is said...

Great shots Kelly!!...you got more of the body on your shots!!...Just love those Pileated Woodpeckers they are just too beautiful.

Midmarsh John said...

Beautiful shots of a handsome bird. What striking colours on the head and such a long neck.

HBFG said...

That's a funny looking guy! We don't have those here.
He's beautiful. Thanks!

Warren Baker said...

Another sunning bird you've found Kelly! It looks almost prehistoric!

PS Ive caught your cold. :-(

Laure Ferlita said...

I definitely think you've got your grandma's touch - seeing these gorgeous birds! Beautiful captures!

Kallen305 said...

Great shots of one of my favorite birds! Such gorgeous creatures

Nick S said...

We heard a few of these last weekend. At least you got some nice glimpses and some shots there Kelly :-)

Jayne said...

I've only been able to photograph one only once, and am so envious that you get to see them so often Kelly! :c) Such great photos you got too!

Roy said...

How lucky your are to have gotten these shots! I have yet to spot one of these, although I'm told they do inhabit the area. Unfortunately they sound exactly like Flickers, so I'm not even sure I've heard any. I haven't seen any of their nest or stash holes, so I'm probably just hearing Flickers.

yen said...

Beautiful bird, I love Woodpecker a lot and like you I have not seen any hole that they burrowed for nesting.

I was walking Maxwell Trail @Fraser's Hill (Pahang,Malaysia) this morning (25 May 09), our only montane forest in tropical Malaysia, and spotted a pair of Crimson Winged Woodpecker, and could not managed some good shot though.

Kelly said...

Crista...thank you! Everytime I see one my heart quickens. They are just that spectacular when they make an appearance.

John...thank you! He does have a long neck and his little crown accentuates it.

Farmgirl...he is funny looking when you think about it because he's so unique!

Warren...They are! we think they look like Pterodactyls! When they come swooping in from out of nowhere it's quite startling! (Warren...this thing has gone into my ear--for heavens sake, I'm 47...I thought only kids got ear infections.)

Laure...you remembered about Grandma's touch! Every now and then some of these more elusive birds cooperate. Maybe grandma is sending them my way!

Kim...thank you! You get to see these fellow a lot. You're lucky!

Nick...I hope they keep hanging in close, but I assume after their babies fledge they will again stay away from the trail. Until then....bring 'em on!

Jayne....usually, they stay stashed away, just teasing us with their calls. I hope they keep coming around.

Roy...funny, because at the trail, I've never seen a Flicker! I've seen them in our backyard and at the rookery, but they seem to pass the trail by. Pileateds need at least 100 acres of mature woodland for their territory. Look for that, and you'll probably find one.

Kelly said...

yen...thank you! That happens a lot for me with these large woodpeckers. I see them, but they stay hidden behind branches and leaves, and I can't get a nice shot...or they stay too far away. I would love to see your Crimson-winged Woodpecker. His name alone is stunning!

Montanagirl said...

You captured some great images! I like the effect of shooting through the leaves and branches, which are softly out of focus, making the Pileated really stand out among them. Good work.

Uncommon Depth said...

Great pictures. What a treat to see this magnificent bird. We have one show up around here occasionally. I suspect he's here all the time, but because we are surrounded by forest, we only see him every now and then.

Richard said...

Great pictures. I was out doing something the other day and had one fly behind me and let out a squawk as he flew by. Scared the hell out of me...:-)

Chris said...

Wow, This trail turns out to be THE place to biek, of course, with a camera in your bag!!! Amazing the number of species you have seen there! And this one is one of th cuttest with his crest on the head. A very nice woodpecker!! it is a goegreous bird!

Cicero Sings said...

We get a pileated couple in our yard every now and again ... especially if I have suet or a peanut feeder out. They will also drink at our bird baths. One day one landed for a drink within a couple of feet of me and didn't seem to mind my presence at all. I was some excited and didn't twitch a muscle! They are amazing birds.

holdingmoments said...

What a magnificent looking bird Kelly.
He certainly does look prehistoric as Warren says. Great captures!

Steve said...

Great looking bird Kelly, and huge for a 'pecker.....but then he is American. Have a great week.

mick said...

Lovely photos and what an awesome experience to have one fly so close over you.

Jenny said...

These are great photos Kelly. I wish we had as striking a Woodpecker over here. I have seen them in the States, but not nearly enough! (-:

The Early Birder said...

My recollection is definitely secretive & difficult to find and then only a brief sighting. These are FAB captures. The head shape always reminds me of my piton hammer! Have a good week. Lol FAB.

Ginnymo said...

Amazing shots of this beautiful bird Kelly!!! Awesome!!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi Kelly, Thanks for visiting my blog. Hope your inlaws like their new home.

We have alot of Pileateds here--and I have some good pictures of them. Right now, as you can tell by reading my blog, I am really 'into' my baby Bluebirds.

I'm enjoying your blog. You are a 'real' birder. I am a rookie!!! ha

Please come back anytime and I'll continue to check out yours.

Hugs,
Betsy

Steve B said...

What fun!

Heather said...

I love Pileateds. How lucky you were to get so close. My closest and most intimate glimpse of them was of a pair up in Michigan a few summers ago - a parent feeding its fledgling, high up in a birch tree. It was quite a sight!
Sorry to hear you have a cold, too! What's up with us getting colds in the spring?!

Vickie said...

Terrific images! Love these woodpeckers. That last image is a very nice one. I love the expressiveness in his face.

Kelly said...

...thanks, everyone! Aren't these guys amazing. They are so striking in appearance--and presence. When they swoop in, your heart skips a beat.

Arija said...

Nice shots and thanks for sharing your fly-over story as well.

E said...

They are excellent pics for a beautiful bird. I also like the new pic of you, great.
Thanks for sharing. Hugs

Kelly said...

Arija...thank you!

Enita...thank you! Both were taken on the same day (last autumn at Jenny Wiley in the mountains of KY), but I was squinting too much in the other, and Rick thought it didn't really look like me, so I chose this one instead.

ShySongbird said...

What beautiful photos of such a striking bird Kelly and how lovely that you had such a close encounter with one at Spring Valley! I'm sure that memory will remain with you.

Aunt "B's" Backyard said...

Hi Kelly, thanks for joining my blog of followers!

I love your post about the pileated woodpeckers...one of my favorite birds. Gee, that had to be are real experience for you being such a cose target with that bird! am constantly searching for nests in my backyard. I've only every found one there and had the wonderful experience of see the babies being fed.

Great shots and great story!

Tammie Lee said...

Lovely post of a gorgeous bird!

Cathy B. said...

It's a beautifull bird :-).
Good luck to find nesting cavity...

Bob and Cynthia Kaufman said...

Beautiful shots of the PIleated, Kelly! I hope they build a nest where you can observe and photograph them.

Deb said...

Fantastic Woodpecker photos Kelly! The Pileated Woodpecker is gorgeous.

Eric Ripma said...

Beautiful shots of the Pileated. They are my favorite eastern woodpecker.

JRandSue said...

Hi Kelly.
What a good looking chat the pileated is.
Well shot great Image.
John.

Kyle said...

Wow, those are some fantastic shots, Kelly! It is so rare that I get to see Pileateds, and have never seen two together. I'm quite jealous!

Tutta la Storia said...

FABULOUS! We hear them all the time here and have yet to see one. My husband saw your blog last night and he told me about this post. TRULY one of the best!

Abe Lincoln said...

Gosh. I wish. A farmer friend has a pair that come two or three times each day to his suet feeders. They have a nest somewhere nearby in the woods. I think it is marvelous that you found them or they found you.

I hear them every time I go to the park along Twin Creek but have yet to locate them. They seem to taunt me to find them.

Congratulations. I think this is splendid.

Alan said...

Hey Kelly,

Aren't Pileated Woodpeckers the best?? Their so neat to watch and listen too. Nice shots!

Shellmo said...

These are such gorgeous photos Kelly! I can appreciate how hard it is to capture a shot of these guys since they are so shy!

Rajesh said...

Fantastic snaps. I have never seen them before. They bare beautiful.

Kelly said...

Wow guys! This definitely has been Red’s most popular post ever, and I think it’s because these birds are so incredibly different. They look prehistoric and hide in the deep shadows of the forest teasing us with their very audible and recognizable calls and drumming. So when one does come out to play or forage at close range, it’s stirring (at least it is for me)—and special. Thank you…

RuthieJ said...

Spectacular photos Kelly! I love these birds and I'm glad you were able to see them up close and share the pictures and story with us.

Larry said...

Exceptional captures of this illusive woodpecker Kelly! I'll bet though, if you take the time to follow them when you see them, this time of year they are probably building a nest and they will eventually lead you to it.

Being the large and quick birds they are it may not be easy but I would give it a try.

I hope to find a nesting pair soon in Lassen National Park here in Northern California. I know where they nested last year (right in a campground) and will be taking a photo trip up there soon.

I will be writing a post on all of the birds I find there next month I imagine. I love those Pileated Woodpeckers, amazing birds.