Small woodpecker clears runway for gigantic incoming woodpecker
These birds are also magnificent to look at. They have beautiful red crests and vivid red facial markings, making them a joy for any bird enthusiast or nature lover to photograph. Their claws are large and powerful to help them cling to trees as they shred and chisel the chunks off. The size of their claws reminds us of prehistoric birds from the time of the dinosaurs.
This large pileated has found the suet feeder in this back yard in Ontario. He comes every morning, announcing his presence with a loud call that sounds like maniacal laughter. He lands in the trees near the feeder and seems to conduct a thorough visual inspection before landing on the suet cage. A smaller downy woodpecker was feasting on the suet, but she kept a watchful eye on the pileated. Like a boss, he flapped in for a landing and the downy made a quick exit to clear the runway. There is no lack of respect for these monstrous woodpeckers. They are not aggressive with the other birds but it seems that nobody wants to get in their way.
Pileated woodpeckers are very good for our local forests. Despite the misunderstood notion that they destroy trees, they will not damage a healthy one. They only eat the bugs that infest the dying trees. In doing so, they promote decay and regeneration and they also create habitat by leaving hollows in standing deadwood for other birds to nest in. Owls in particular, love using the large holes as shelter.