LIFE'S BETTER IN THE MOUNTAINS

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Mystery Bird is Pileated Woodpecker

It's certainly no mystery that we have Pileated Woodpeckers living in our woods. We love watching them look for insects. They come to our suet several times every day.

During all that time we have never once observed a pileated at the sunflower hearts. The feeder is definitely not designed for a Pileated Woodpecker. We've seen Red-bellied Woodpeckers there on occasion and even they look quite strange.

However, this female decided she wanted some of those seeds, no matter how awkward she might look in getting them.



She balanced herself fairly well I thought, and seemed to enjoy the new-found feast.


Much to her surprise (and to mine as well), a female Eastern Towhee decided to try the seeds for herself. She totally ignored the Pileated who couldn't believe her eyes. My first thought was that she would fly away. But she didn't.
The towhee looked at her as if to say, "You don't have a problem with my being here, do you?"



Apparently the Pileated reassured the towhee and they both turned their interest to the food at hand.




After the towhee left, the pileated continued to eat at the feeder. She slid around to all sides. I was so afraid the seed tray would fall off under her weight, but it didn't.




Finally, having eaten her fill, she rolled off the feeder and glided into the forest.


Don't you just love seeing birds do things you don't expect them to do? I'm not sure if this is a juvenile or not. The Pileateds have fledged, but Big Mama and Big Daddy have chosen to feed them deeper in the forest so I have not had a good look at the little one. Hence, no name yet. We have not observed the Pileated coming back to this feeder.
----------We have plenty of woodpeckers in queue at the suet. The Pileated, the Red-bellied, the Hairy, and the Downy all have fledglings. Unfortunately, they are all feeding them behind branches with heavy leaves, or on the other side of the trees. It's as if they are determined that I will not get a photograph of them this year. That frustration notwithstanding, I do love watching all the fledglings. I think it's even better than migration!

32 comments:

merrilymarylee said...

Loved this one! We were house-sitting for friends at Hilton Head one year and kept hearing nearby "construction." Finally realized it was a pileated woodpecker eating the house. Called the folks at Clemson for advice. Supposedly he was eating bugs ON the house, but he was taking chunks of house, too! The noise was unreal.

robin andrea said...

I love seeing that eastern towhee share the feeder with the pileated woodpecker. What a delightful sight that is. A truly great gathering at your feeder.

Donna at Mourning Dove Cottage said...

Wow, I've never seen a pileated woodpecker. How interesting. Love the photos you took.

Bird watching is such a delight!

Hugs,
Donna

grammy said...

Fun to see the comparison in the two birds (o:

George said...

What wonderful pictures of the pileated and the towhee on the feeder. We've never seen a Pileated Woodpecker at a seed feeder either. We have seen a Downy fledgling at the suet, however.

Dave's Bird Watching Blog said...

Now that's a combination you surely wouldn't expect at that feeder: a pileated wp and a towhee. Fun! I love the brown/orange combo on the female towhees...neat bird. We have yet to ever see a pileated wp here at our house. I guess all this time we just needed to get the right feeder like you have! ;-)

Sam said...

How cool. That pecker might have a career as a gymnast! What nice pictures. I like seeing the woodpecker sharing the feeder with the other bird.

Barb said...

What a wonderful series of photos! Loved your commentary, too.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Awe My Goodness, Carolyn... I would never have picked out a Pileated from your picture yesterday, even though I know Pileated Woodpeckers.

I have only seen one at our suet feeder ---one time... They can really wrap themselves all around those feeders, can't they????

So they enjoy the Sunflower hearts???? I'll have to remember that. I use them--but usually in a 'combo' feeder.

Thanks for sharing such great pictures.

Hugs,
Betsy

Shellmo said...

So funny to see this big ole Pileated on this feeder! Must've been very hungry! But also friendly to allow the towhee to dine w/ him! Cute!!

KB said...

Wow, what great photos. Pileated woodpeckers are so impressive.

I can't believe that your woodpeckers already have fledglings. It'll be at least a month before we see any here!

Thanks for being so observant of the surprising behaviors and neat moments your birds have at your feeders and for sharing them!

Rae said...

Nice. I have never seen one in my area. Kind of reminds me Woody Woodpecker. Remember him? Oh why did I have to remember him -
now I'll never get that annoying cartoon laughing bird call thing out of my head.

cedrorum said...

Great shots. I would have been nervous if I was that towhee. The pileated, along with the red-headed are the 2 birds that most uninformed people around our parts misidentify as the federally listed red-cockaded woodpecker.

dAwN said...

Wow...I have never seen one at the feeder! very cool...I like the photos of the piliated and the towhee..
Nice...

Rudee said...

I love interpretation of the bird dialogue.

Jayne said...

That's just hysterical!

Kerri said...

Oh my...what a sight to see!
Great captures!

Dog_geek said...

I always love seeing your Pileated Woodpeckers! I still hear ours calling in the woods from time to time, but I haven't actually seen them in a while. I wish we could get them to come to our feeders!

wncmountainliving said...

How funny! She really had to work hard to stay on the feeder! We have pileateds in the woods around our house but none have tried to use the feeders.

Sara G said...

Boy he/she was really craning their neck to eat!!
Awesome photo's.
I have never seen a woodpecker like before.

Cicero Sings said...

They sure can go through some contortions to get some grub!

Hot and buggy here. I HATE deer flies!

amarkonmywall said...

A fantastic series of photos that really suit the anthropomorphic commentary! ;-) She really does look as though she can't believe her eyes. What a contortionist she is at your feeder.

amarkonmywall said...

Hey! I just followed a comment left by wncmountainliving and she lives right down the road from our new home! Less than 1/2 mile, she has our nearest farm stand. :-)

JeanMac said...

Wow, what an acrobatic effort for her to feed.

jan m said...

Great photos of a beautiful bird and a dedicated one to hang on so long. I had a red-bellied at my tube feeder in a similar position yesterday.

Ruth said...

I was wondering about your Pileated WPs the other day. What a pair the Towhee and the WP make at the feeder!

NCmountainwoman said...

Thanks, everyone for commenting.

Dave - Think I could get her to eat from my hand?

Betsy - We use sunflower hearts primarily because of the fact that the entire seed is consumed and we don't have so many seeds and hulls on the ground.

Rae - Oh, yes. Whenever we have guests they always comment on our "Woody Woodpecker."

WNCmtn - We have attracted the pileateds with suet ever since we moved here. Our neighbors have used the same suet and can't seem to attract them. I don't know what the difference is.

Cicero - Oh, I hate deer flies as well. My husband has a very significant response to their bite and if bitten on the forehead, his eyes swell shut.

MOMW - Wow! You already know your neighbor...AND she has fresh organic produce. The only thing missing from this picture is you!

Jan - We also have seen the Red-bellied and Downy Woodpeckers at this feeder, but this was the first time for a pileated.

laurie said...

WOW. i have seen many many pileated woodpeckers, and it's always a great treat because they are so big and gorgeous. when i lived in duluth there was one that came around every day for weeks, drilling away at the dead tree in my yard. but i have *never* seen one at a birdfeeder.

spectacular! truly, you live in a magical place.

Vicki Lane said...

What wonderful photos! I love the pileated woodpeckers, even though they make large holes in our house's wooden siding.

scienceguy288 said...

That pileated woodie looks really wierd at the feeder. A little out of place one would think.

mon@rch said...

outstanding photos! I love seeing these guys!

yukonmusher said...

love the pictures, so neat to see a unique behaviour!