Pileated Woodpecker Father and Nestlings Journal
“Dryocopus pileatus Pileated Woodpecker Father & Nestlings” is the first in a series of images tracking the life of a young Pileated Woodpecker family living in a Beech-Maple forest of Southwestern Ontario.
Late May 2016, while taking an early morning walk along my favourite woodsy trail, I caught sight of a Pileated Woodpecker flying towards a hole in the trunk of a dead American Beech tree. Facing south, the hole was about 40 feet up from the ground. Calling, this impressive bird with a black mustache landed on the trunk by the hole. As she did so the head of another popped out! This second woodpecker had a red mustache. After a brief intermingling of calls and wings, the male -- who had been inside the hole -- flew off, and the female entered. Then, all was still.
As you can well imagine, following such a sight I took every opportunity to walk the trail and linger at the base of this old tree. Observing, I realized that these two birds were taking turns inside the tree -- the male entering at dusk and the female at dawn. They were incubating their eggs!
Somewhere close to the beginning of June this pattern changed. Tirelessly, both black & red-mustached birds came and went. Each bird arrived with something in its bill, disappeared into the hole, then shortly after poked its head out. And, in the blink of an eye flew off, empty-billed.
It was June 3, 2016 when I first witnessed their two nestlings, blind and featherless, poking their heads out, begging for food. Here, the father feeds them regurgitated insects.
This year, Apr 22, 2017, while standing under a living Black Cherry tree just a little further down the path, I was showered with little bits of wood -- the cause, a male Dryocopus pileatus (Pileated Woodpecker) excavating a new nest! As he created a home for his family, I created this digital mixed media image of him.
May this pileated pair inspire you as you record memorable moments. Enjoy!
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