Dean M. Chriss
Pileated Woodpecker, Nest Building
(Click image to enlarge)
I found this male pileated woodpecker and his mate building a nest in a dead
tree that also held an osprey nest at the end of the same large branch. The
constant pounding was rightfully of some concern to the ospreys. Pileated
woodpeckers sometimes excavate such large nest cavities that they cause the tree
to break. I observed the pair of woodpeckers taking turns excavating their nest
for three days. The male did the vast majority of the digging. The female would
fly in for a short bout of excavating and an inspection.
Except for the probably extinct ivory-billed woodpecker, the pileated woodpecker
is the largest woodpecker found in the United States. Adults are 16 to 19 inches
(40 to 49 cm) long with a wingspan of 26 to 30 inches (66 to 75 cm). They
inhabit deciduous forests in eastern North America, the Great Lakes, the boreal
forests of Canada, and parts of the Pacific coast.