Saw a Pileated Woodpecker this morning

Pipersville_Carol(z6 Bucks PA)October 13, 2006

As I pulled out of our driveway this morning, I saw two large unusual birds fly overhead. They were Pileated Woodpeckers! I stopped and saw one very clearly after it landed on a tree. It was a beautiful bird, with a big long beak and brilliant red head. Seemed very agitated, maybe they were having a territorial dispute.

I've ALWAYS wanted to see one on our property, this is a very exciting addition to my bird list. It's my first Pileated sighting ever.

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geoforce(z7a SE PA)

Carol, we have 2 nesting pairs which have returned to our land here in SE Chesco for several years. I see them every year, but have not see any young ones. Not sure if this means they are unsuccessful or whether the babies are different enough I don't recognize them. They have a very strange cry, like a child yelping, and they fly so strange in a sort of dip and rise path, they are unmistakable. Certainly a rare and gorgeous creature.


    Bookmark   October 13, 2006 at 1:19PM
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Certainly must be exciting. We've seen them a handful of times in various places in PA, but mostly in deep woods and forests in the northern tier counties. We've never seen a pair, though, only solitary birds. It would be really something if they established a nest on your property, wouldn't it.

I've never heard a pileated's call, in fact I thought they were more or less mute, with their drumming being their main mode of territorial communication. So your observation is illuminating to me.

We've found that we could get real close to these birds during several of our encounters with them. I can see how their movements would appear agitated, but comparing them with observations of other woodpecker species, I think their jerky and erratic movements, especially when foraging on tree trunks, are pretty characteristic of woodpeckers in general. Somehow I have always had the impression that woodpeckers are among the dimwits of the bird world. I can't explain why this seems so to me, exactly, but maybe it's because they seem so oblivious to my presence even when I have stood very near to them. I also have this notion that any creature that finds its sustenance by beating its head against oak and other hardwoods all day must have evolved in conjunction with a trend toward a minimal number of brain cells.

I don't mean to diminish your admiration for the pileated by my less flattering observations - they just arose due to my questionable sense of humor. In fact, a pileated siting is a breathtaking occurence, in my opinion. There's something so uncanny in their physical appearance and bearing, and I always find myself wondering "How can this fantastic creature" - they do bring pteridactyls to mind, don't they? - "be inhabiting the twentieth millenium instead of prehistory?"

Hope you see 'em again. By the way, what kind of habitat is around your property? Do you have a lot of old established trees or extensive woodlands? These are the only habitats in which I've ever seen them, and my sitings have always occurred well north of Bucks County.


    Bookmark   October 13, 2006 at 10:18PM
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earthlydelights(6 pushing 7)

how wonderful carol. i had to google it to see the picture and what a gorgeous creature. i've heard woodpeckers but have never seen one up close and personal.

i've recently had a grouse as a visitor (very short stay). i'm always on the prowl for nature. among the highlights in my life of bird sightings, i have only ever seen one hummingbird in my life, a wild turkey, a blue bird, and many years ago i saw an owl, which was so fascinating in my book.

i've been doing my best to attract more and more varieties to my yard. one of these days, i'm going to join a bird-watching club.

great find carol!


    Bookmark   October 14, 2006 at 10:59PM
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not_a_contessa(z5b S Central PA mtns.)

I'm so glad you posted this, I googled for pictures, and found that the holes in the trees at my camp are holes made by Pileated Woodpeckers. I'm glad too that we didn't get to go to camp very much this year, because the birds were not disturbed by our presence.

Hopefully I'll be able to get a glimpse of them soon, we still need to close the camp for the winter. DH said he saw another hole in a different tree. Boy, this really has me curious, maybe there are more of them around.

Our camp is in a wilderness area on a river, heavily wooded, and across the river there are cliffs and rock outcroppings, so not much human activity goes on there. It's a great place for wildlife, and some of the creatures seen there have been a mountain lion, a coyote, eagles, hawks, kingfishers, and a wide variety of smaller birds.


    Bookmark   October 15, 2006 at 8:38PM
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geoforce(z7a SE PA)

I also thought they looked as I imagined pterodactyls would. The very long head with the crest sure brings them to mind.


    Bookmark   October 16, 2006 at 8:14AM
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Pipersville_Carol(z6 Bucks PA)

They do look like pterodactyls!

To answer the question about habitat, our property is in a edge zone in a peidmont region. To the northeast are cliffs and mature woods on hills, with creeks in hollows draining into the Delaware. To the southeast is a low rolling plateau, mostly meadow with young cedar woods.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2006 at 11:25AM
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I would give anything to see one for sure. I have seen something large flyby in Bowman's wildflower preserve in Bucks county . and Ridley Creek state park in Delaware county both with large trees They are in French Creek State park too. But they are very wary of people, They sound I think like a flicker or red belly loud.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2006 at 4:24PM
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Pipersville_Carol(z6 Bucks PA)

A sad bird story...

I saw a small downy woodpecker in distress this morning, on a busy highway (Route 309 north of Center Valley). I didn't stop to help because the road was too dangerous and I was afraid of getting hit. I had to decide to keep driving. It cast a pall on my whole day.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2006 at 5:14PM
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Pipersville_Carol(z6 Bucks PA)

Update: the bird might have survived. I drove as slowly as I dared along that stretch this morning, and didn't see a body.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2006 at 10:34AM
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chescobob(z6b SEPA)

I looked out back in my woods this afternoon and a pileated woodpecker flew into them. Its easy to tell them because of their size.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2006 at 5:59PM
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Pipersville_Carol(z6 Bucks PA)

Cool, chescobob! They are big birds.

We've had loads of smaller woodpeckers at the birdfeeder lately. I love the really tiny ones (Downy or Hairy, I think).

    Bookmark   December 18, 2006 at 1:07PM
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