Last Sunday, April 12, I took a new birder, a Swarthmore College professor, birding in the Crum Woods. We were fortunate enough to happen upon a male Pileated Woodpecker excavating a nesting hole in a dead tree along Crum Creek. We watched in fascination as the bird dug deep into the nearly completed cavity and flung wood chips out over his shoulder. What a wonderful experience for a new birder! (and an old one). While we were watching we attracted a bit of a crowd of dog walkers & dogs which I had to break up because the bird was looking a little nervous.
I went back that same afternoon & was lucky enough to get some photos of the male at work.
|The wood chips are flying|
|The red whiskers show it's a male|
|Sibley and another reference tell me pileated woodpeckers excavate round holes for nesting & oblong holes for feeding.|
I had seen a pair of pileateds at a different nesting cavity nearby last spring and a check of Birds of North America on line tells me that pileateds maintain pair bonds year round and rarely reuse the same cavity so this very well may be the same pair at work. The same reference tells me that the male does the great majority of nest excavation so this guy was fitting the mold.
This morning, 4/19, I revisited the site and this time I found a female feeding atop the nest tree who then flew down and perched at the nesting hole obviously checking it out to see if the guy did it right. While I had her in a binocular field another pileated called from nearby. Presumably this was the mate but despite repeated calls from the bird & my best efforts I never saw him (it). If my assumptions are correct the birds will be incubating soon (both, but mostly the female) & the chicks should hatch in about 2 - 3 weeks. I'll check as often as I can & bring my camera, which I did not do today.
It's easy viewing & I recommend it but be careful not to attract a crowd. The nest is on the opposite side of the creek so that should help prevent disturbance.
If you want specific directions you can contact me email@example.com.
I'll try to keep you posted.