One of our favorite farm visitors is the Pileated Woodpecker. We actually have at least one breeding pair that resides on our back wooded acreage. I have seen them doing their mating dance around the trees. It’s actually quite comical, it looks more like they are playing hide and seek with each other.
The male seems to be the one in charge of coming to our suet feeders, which we keep full all year long, to get food for the youngins in the spring. He always announces himself with a loud yipping sound as he flies into the back yard. He has a favorite feeder as you can see. The racoons frequently tear down and rip open our suet feeders (as do the black bear when they come through), so my husband made this simple little feeder out of some hardware cloth scraps that we had lying around. It is the only feeder this guy will use and you know when it is empty because he makes a real fuss until we refill it.
You can tell the difference between the male and female because the male has a red stripe under his beak where the female does not. She doesn’t come around as much as the male, but we see her on occasion. She’s camera shy though.
We have several different species of woodpeckers here regularly. There are always Downy Woodpeckers at the feeders as well as Hairy Woodpeckers (no that’s not a joke), Red-Bellied Woodpeckers, Red-Headed Woodpeckers and the occasional Flicker (again, it’s a real thing…look it up). The Pileated is by far the largest one. They are about the size of a crow and are very obvious as they fly across the vineyard, which they do frequently. Whenever there is a sighting, someone yells, “Big Pecker!!” (Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up)
I didn’t realize until I started writing this that there were so many dirty innuendos associated with these guys…
You wouldn’t believe the power these little fellows have in their beaks though. One morning I awoke to the sound of someone knocking on my door. I hurriedly threw on enough cloths to be descent and ran down to the front door. There was no one there. Again, I heard the knocking, but it was more muffled, so I ran and checked the back door. Again no one. The knocking continued and as I checked door after door (we have more than anyone really needs), I started to think someone was playing a prank on me. I started walking back through the kitchen and the knocking started again. Out of the corner of my eye I saw movement through the kitchen window. “Ah ha!! I caught you, you little felon!” Except it wasn’t a bored teenager trying to make me lose my mind, it was the Pileated Woodpecker chipping pieces off the 6×6 posts that hold up my back balcony. “Damn pecker.”
This past winter I was able to catch him on video searching some of our dead trees for food after a particularly bad ice storm.