With the probable extinction of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker,
the Pileated Woodpecker is now the largest and most spectacular among North
America’s 20 Woodpecker species. It is easily identified by the flaming red
crest atop its black-masked white face. In flight, the mostly black bird will
flash white underneath.
You may be alerted to its presence by its loud call or the
drumming of the pickaxe-like strokes of its long bill in search of carpenter
ants or insect larvae in rotting trees. Woodpeckers are equipped with an extra
layer in their skull to absorb the shock of this hammering, and this provided
the model for early development of football helmets. The hammering also serves
to attract mates, to defend its territory, or to excavate nesting sites.
The Pileated Woodpecker requires mature trees at least 2
feet in diameter, either deciduous or coniferous, for nesting. Typically, 3-5 eggs
are laid in April atop the sawdust and woodchips left on the cavity floor.
After the nest is abandoned, the hole may be
used by screech owls, wood ducks and squirrels.
Each individual Pileated Woodpecker has a range of about
1,000 acres, so loss of habitat provides reasons for concern about their
future. A male and female Pileated Woodpecker were sighted in Alpine Meadows
this week. Perhaps this area falls within the range of both; or perhaps we
should be preparing for an early spring, with these two exhibiting telltale
signs of spring fever.
(Please contact Leigh Edwards at Leighe11@hotmail.com to
Jan. 19 -
Sketching with Isobel MacLaurin
, 7-9 p.m.
Contact Mitch Sulkers (932-3707) to register.
Feb. 5 -
. Meet at the base of Lorimer Road at 8 a.m. Contact Michael Thompson
(932-5010) for more information.
Feb. 6 -
Marlene Siemens (938-9690) to register.
To join the Whistler Naturalists, please call Bob Brett
(938-8900) or Marlene Siemens (938-9690).