Gigantic woodpecker devours suet cake at backyard feeder
Pileated woodpeckers are giants in the North American bird world. They are the largest of the woodpecker species, previously being second to the ivory billed woodpecker that, sadly, is now believed to be extinct. Pileated woodpeckers delight nature lovers and bird enthusiasts with their gorgeous red plumage.
Pileated woodpeckers are large and heavy birds. They use their great strength and enormous bills to fragment dead trees rapidly to get at insect larvae inside. They have long tongues which they use as spears to pull the grubs and larva from their hiding spots. A full grown pileated can smash through a dead tree trunk in minutes if it finds food inside the wood. Healthy trees are rarely infested and woodpeckers have no reason to peck holes in a tree that is not already in trouble. For this reason, they are beneficial to the forest, speeding the decay of diseased and rotting logs. They also create habitat and nesting sites for other birds such as small owls, by creating large holes that are used for shelter.
The male and female both have red heads, but the male also has red cheeks. Being territorial, a male will chase away a rival male from his area. To see two of these woodpeckers in the same area usually means that they are a nesting pair.
To attract pileated woodpeckers to a back yard feeder, it is good to have suet and a variety of seeds and peanuts. They are delight to see up close!