Named for their jaunty red crests the Pileated Woodpecker is the largest woodpecker in North America (since the extinction of ivory-billed woodpeckers in the 1940's, due to habitat loss).
Generally you hear their rhythmically drumming on trees, to forge or to broadcast territory and attract mates, before you see them. Using their powerful beaks to chisel out large square holes in soft, dead wood, then extract wood-boring insects such as carpenter ants, with their long, barbed tongues. They also excavate large nesting and roosting cavities in the dead trees.
Because they excavate new cavities yearly, their abandoned homes become coveted nests for birds such as the eastern screech owls, American kestrels, and wood ducks, as well as such mammals as bats, squirrels (as you can see if Oliver's painting) and raccoons, who can't excavate their own tree cavities.
They are considered a keystone species, as the well-being and survival of many other species depends upon them.
Habitats that support healthy populations of woodpeckers have large dead and dying standing trees, known as snags, which are abundant in mature forests. Snags may occur due to many reasons, including disease, lightning, or simply old age.
With the loss of many of our forests, due to development, it is becoming difficult for the sizable pileated woodpeckers to find suitable nesting trees, which, in turn, could affect many more species.
Many dead or dying trees can safely be left in place, thus providing our wildlife with foraging and nesting opportunities. By making an effort to keep snags in our backyards and public spaces, we can help protect our native species, for generations to come.
Oliver is 5 years old and wanted to join his mom in painting the sidewalks. He was so excited to share with the team that he paints too and was overjoyed when they gave him his very own piece of the sidewalk to paint. When finished, he told his mom this was the best day ever! Oliver hopes to be a really great artist some day and loves animals and nature as shown in his painting.
Oliver painted a nature scene with a woodpecker and squirrel climbing up and orange tree.