Saturday, September 12, 2015

Pileated Woodpecker and the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker Photo

I was walking around our street and saw a pileated woodpecker up in a tree.  Didn't get great pics, but am sharing them with you.  We have several types of woodpeckers in our woods and fields:
1.  downy woodpecker (small)
Image result for downy woodpecker
2.  hairy woodpecker (slightly bigger)
Image result for hairy woodpecker woodpecker  
3.  red-headed woodpecker (the head is completely red.  very distinctive!)
Image result for red headed woodpecker
4.  pileated woodpecker (head in the shape of a triangle)

"The Pileated Woodpecker is one of the biggest, most striking forest birds on the continent. It’s nearly the size of a crow, black with bold white stripes down the neck and a flaming-red crest. Look (and listen) for Pileated Woodpeckers whacking at dead trees and fallen logs in search of their main prey, carpenter ants, leaving unique rectangular holes in the wood. The nest holes these birds make offer crucial shelter to many species including swifts, owls, ducks, bats, and pine martens."
Image: Gerrit Vyn, available at:


Pileated Woodpeckers are forest birds that require large, standing dead trees and downed wood. Forests can be evergreen, deciduous, or mixed and are often old, particularly in the West. In the East they live in young forests as well and may even be seen in partially wooded suburbs and backyards.
Adult male with young
Who doesn't love a good mystery.  My bird book lists the Ivory-billed woodpecker as being extinct.  It hasn't been clearly photographed since the 1940s.  Yet, there's been several reports of ivory-billed woodpecker sightings. Pileated woodpeckers and ivory-billed woodpeckers look similar.  Photos of both are below:
Pileated Woodpecker (left)                 Ivory-billed Woodpecker (right)

"The ivory-bill’s precipitous decline began in the latter half of the 19th century as forests were cut to support a growing demand for wood products and cleared for settlement and agriculture. Technology and the resource demands of two world wars increased the logging rate in the 20th century, further decimating essential habitat. In addition, excessive collection of birds for commercial, recreational, scientific, and educational purposes also contributed to declines as the range became restricted. By 1939, James Tanner estimated that 22–24 birds remained in the United States."

Some good websites regarding the ivory-billed woodpecker:

What you can do: 

Federal Land Acquisition and the Duck Stamp 
"As part of the recovery strategy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may also acquire additional lands from willing sellers using funds from a number of programs. One key acquisition program is the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp program, commonly known as “Duck Stamp.” This $15 stamp is one of the most successful conservation programs in the country, investing 98% of funds generated into land conservation. While all waterfowl hunters age 16 and older are required to purchase and carry Duck Stamps, anyone can purchase one to invest in conservation. Since its inception in 1934, the sale of Federal Duck Stamps has generated more than $670 million, resulting in the purchase or lease of over 5.2 million acres of waterfowl habitat in the U.S. In fact, more than 44,000 acres at Cache River National Wildlife Refuge were purchased using Federal Duck Stamp funding."

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