Monday, May 05, 2008

Pileated Woodpecker

Staff and visitors at the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest have long sought a good picture of, even a good look at, a Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus). This large woodpecker is fairly shy and quickly flies off when it detects nearby humans. As periodic news accounts air or are printed, this is also the woodpecker that is mistaken for the thought-to-be extinct Ivory-billed Woodpecker.

Yesterday, visitors heading to the Francis Beidler Forest discovered a Pileated Woodpecker near the side of the road. When they approached the bird, it did not fly off, so they assumed that it had been hit by a passing car. They called the nature center and reported that they would be bringing in the bird. As luck would have it, Jeff Mollenhauer, Audubon South Carolina's Director of Bird Conservation, was on weekend duty. A quick look at the bird told Jeff that it was uninjured, but could not fly as it had not yet developed the necessary flight feathers. The images show the young bird that had left its nest cavity prior to developing flight capability. The parents were likely nearby and will continue to feed their young even if the young remain grounded. The bird was quickly returned to the spot where it had been "rescued."

Pileated Woodpeckers bond year-round and remain on the same territory during that time. The male will roost in the nest cavity prior to egg laying and will roost in previous years' cavities at other times of the year. At night, the male incubates the eggs. If a nest cavity is compromised or the tree itself falls, Pileated Woodpeckers have been observed carrying their eggs to other nest cavities. The chicks are fed a mixture of regurgitated insects (75%), fruits, nuts, acorns, and sap. Yum!

If you hear the Woody Woodpecker chatter of the cartoons, take a quick look around and you may catch a glimpse of the red mohawk-wearing headbanger of the swamp!

Images by Cole McKinney

Click here for an image by Ron Wright

24 comments:

Meredith said...

I saw a pair of Pileated woodpeckers yesterday (5/26) morning. I live inNorthwood Estates (N,Charleston)SC. They were observed for about 10 minutes searching for insects in some dead branches of a water oak. I live on the largest of the lakes in Northwood. Been here 25 years and these are the first Pileated I have have ever seen. Very Impressive!
Meredith Going
going@knology.net
meredithgoing@gmail.com
2662 Delhi Road
N. Chas SC 29406
aepqwy

KCD said...

August 2, 2008
So exciting!
This morning a very large Pileated woodpecker landed on a tree in my backyard. I live in old Mt. Pleasant in a very populated area and have several different kinds of feeders to attract a variety of species. I have my coffee with a pair of binoculars in my lap and thank goodness I was prepared this morning. After living in this house for twenty years...This is a first. Unfortunately..it was chased off by a couple of Blue Jays. Any chance of it coming back???

Swampy said...

If you have the habitat that the Pileated Woodpecker likes, it should remain in the area.

Bruce said...

I saw a pair of Pileated woodpeckers this morning (3/26/09)
Myrtle Beach S.C.As i was dropping my little boy off at my moms house.I observed 2 woodpeckers serching for insects.
I have seen some there before.
Bruce Kennedy
surferbruce33@yahoo.com

Anna said...

I saw a Pileated Woodpecker in Clemson, SC today (05/02/09). It was observed sitting on the fence, I took a picture of it from the distance. Once I came two steps closer (still being 25-30 feet away from it), the bird flew away.

Kelly said...

Hello-
Yesterday I found a Pileated Woodpecker dead on its back in my backyard (Beaufort, SC). It had something in its mouth that appeared to be a lizard or snake tail. It seems like it choked to death? I read that they usually eat insects. Is it possible that the woodpecker would have eaten a lizard or snake? My kids have enjoyed investigating this mystery.

kellymcdaniel@charter.net

Swampy said...

We've never heard of a Pileated eating a lizard, but as noted below, they eat a variety of items.

"Analysis of 80 stomachs (Beal 1911): 22% beetles (Cerambycidae, Buprestidae, Elateridae, Lucanidae, Scarabaeidae, Carabidae), 40% ants (Camponotus pennsylvanicus, C. herculeanus, Cremastogaster laeviuscula), 11% other insects (flies, caterpillars, cockroaches, grasshoppers, sawflies, and others), 27% vegetable. Vegetable food: berries from greenbrier (Smilax glauca), cat brier (S. rotundifolia), laurel-leaved greenbrier (S. laurifolia), hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), sassafras (Sassafras sassafras), blackberry or raspberry (Rubus sp.), dwarf sumac (Rhus copallina), poison sumac (R. vernix), poison ivy (R. radicans), American holly (Ilex opaca), dahoon holly (I. cassine), frost grape (Vitis cordifolia), woodbine (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), rough-leaved dogwood (C. asperifolia), black gum (Nyssa sylvatica), tupelo gum (N. aquatica), persimmon (Diospyros virginiana), fringe tree (Chionanthus virginica), elderberry (Sambucus canadensis), larger withe-rod (Viburnum nudum), and black haw (V. prunifolium).

Scat samples in Iowa consist primarily of carpenter ants (Downing 1940). In South Carolina, often seen eating magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) seeds (Sprunt and Chamberlain 1970). In appropriate habitats, regularly patronizes suet feeders; Carter (1942) observed a male eating salmon which was bait to trap a cat."

Bull, Evelyn L. and Jerome A. Jackson. 1995. Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/148

doi:10.2173/bna.148

Nita said...

Last week I observed a pileated woodpecker flying through our woods with a small snake hanging from his talons. I live in Coopertown, TN (near Nashville). I hear them and see them often, but have never seen one with a snake. Do they eat small (maybe a baby) snakes?

Donna said...

I saw a pair of Pileated woodpeckers early this morning, September 16, in my back yard. I live near Hwys 17 & 41, in Mt. Pleasant SC. They were magnificent. I've lived here for a year, and this is the first time I have seen them.

Donna said...

I saw a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers in my back yard this morning, September 16. Have lived here for a year, this is the first time I have seen them. Magnificent.

Anonymous said...

I saw 2 Pileated woodpeckers this morning in the trees in my back yard, I live on the banks of Lake Moultrie in Cross

Anonymous said...

I saw a pair of Pileated woodpeckers today in my backyard. I live in Longs, SC.

Anonymous said...

In the past week,,ive heard the call of a different bird...then i saw the Pileated Woodpecker land on my dogwood tree ,,eating the berries...Today,,,there were three of them,,, I put up two Suet feeders,,hoping to keep them coming back... Love them... Ive got photos of them...

Anonymous said...

We have living on our property 4 pileated woodpeckers. We live in the shell community in Conway South Carolina. They are big and beautiful. We are truly blessed to have them. We watch them every day in a tree outside right outside out kitchen table and just sit with our coffee and enjoy. A nice Christmas gift from God this year. His creation.

Charles Gatch said...

On December 16 and 17 in the evening, I saw the same Pileated woodpecker in my yard. On the 16th he was eating the berries off of my Dogwood tree. The next evening, I saw the bird in several pines our around the yard. I have not seen the bird since.Lexington, SC cgatch@sc.rr.com

Meredith said...

Saw a single male Pileated Woodpecker this afternoon, (12/31/11). Managed some pictures. You can see at this link:https://picasaweb.google.com/101311286383951884600/PileatedWoodpecker?authkey=Gv1sRgCLCc7ZS22vbwNQ#5692662160678992162
Meredith Going
going@knology.net
North Charleston, SC

Meredith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

We observed a Pileated woodpecker in our backyard here in Rock Hill, SC now for several days. It has been pealing the bark off a small Sweetgum tree. I suppose after ants.He comes back every morn now for the past couple of weeks & has torn off about a four section of bark.

Unknown said...

There was one in back garden last week here in Lexington, SC.

Anonymous said...

There was one in my back garden last week, here in Lexington, SC.

chris said...

Just saw what I believe to be a Pileated Woodpecker here in Summerville, SC. I will upload my picture here for confirmation.

Anonymous said...

I saw two Pileated Woodpeckers in my back yard this morning @ 9:00 AM. Mount Pleasant-Hamlin Plantation. They were working (pecking)on one of our live oaks. They were here for a good 30 minutes. We have seen these woodpeckers before, so they must like our location.

Anna Kirkland said...

I live in Irmo,SC and just saw a pillared Woodpecker at 0800 this morning. It's currently snowing and very icy, which made the birds outstanding color incredibly vibrant against the white background.

Sharon said...

In Hilton Head SC saw four Pileated woodpeckers today, in my back yard, so excited.