October 7, 2013

Pileated Woodpecker

By Margaret Gillespie

Look at this huge section of red maple that fell down in an early summer wind storm. My niece, Yesi, is inspecting the huge, rectangular holes made by pileated woodpeckers. It might be tempting to blame the woodpeckers for the tree’s demise but they aren’t responsible. Inside the holes, I showed Yesi the remnants of carpenter ant tunnels so this tree was already in trouble. Pileated woodpeckers can detect activity of carpenter ants as well as beetle larvae and other insects through the bark. With powerful strokes of their beaks, they can expose ant colonies or even excavate for a nest. Abandoned holes are great nesting spots of other birds or for roosting bats. Do you have any dead or dying trees in your woodlot? Consider saving them as forest apartments for wildlife!

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