The Pileated Woodpecker Family

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Pileated Woodpecker

We appear to have a more interesting assortment of birds here in West Virginia than we did in Virginia.  I'd seen several Pileated Woodpeckers flying around and drumming on dead trees.  In Virginia, we hardly ever saw one.

Woodpecker making nestOn March, 17, I saw one making a hole in the dead tree beside our shed.  It turned out to be a male making a nest.  They make a nest and hope to find a female to mate with.  We watched the nest for a while and finally decided we were seeing both a male and a female.  The pictures will show how to tell the difference.  Then we thought we were watching the male and female take turns sitting on the eggs.  I have since decided that the babies had hatched and they were taking turns feeding them.

The babiesNot sure when the eggs were laid.  You need good light and binoculars or a zoom lens and a picture to tell the male from the female.  When we first saw the babies was on May 25.  I don't think they had been looking out of the nest long before that but who knows.
3 babies

Watching the little ones was a fun.  A male must have been the first to hatch because he was fed first and the one most often seen looking out of the nest.  We thought there were only two but one of the pictures showed three little heads sticking out of the hole.  We had two males and a female. 


We thought the male was getting most of the food.  Turns out we were wrong.  The female got a decent share too.  In one series of pictures, you can see where the mother left and then came back to feed the female.  Turned out they were both good parents.  We got some good pictures of both the male and female feeding the babies.  If they are still babies at that size.

Feeding the femaleOn May 30, the larger male was pretty much coming out of the nest but not quite.  We expected him to be fledging soon.  What we didn't realize was that was the day all three would fledge.  It happened so quickly we missed it.  I'd been expecting it and still missed it.  I even checked under the tree to make sure there weren't any little ones laying there and there weren't.  It was fun watching them and maybe we'll get a chance again next year.

There's a flicker that seems to be feeding babies higher in the dead tree.  They're up high enough that they'll be hard to see though.

Take a look at the pictures.  Some of them are kind of interesting.  Some are probably there just to fill in the story. If you take a look, you should find some interesting ones.
There is some followup to this story. You can tell that the nest occupice much of the tree. We recently had a lot of wind and the tree broke right at the nest. Its now suspended from the tree trunk and a branch its leaning on the right. I need it to so I can save my shed. Oh well.