Pileated Woodpecker captured by D6 / 180-400VR

The size of a crow, you’d think they are easy to spot. At least, that’s what we thought but we’ve found the Pileated Woodpeckers here at The Ranch to be pretty darn crafty. We’d not actually seen one since the first confirmed siting which I was able to photograph on 02 Feb. We had seen signs of them but that’s not a real confirmation with so much woodpecker activity here at The Ranch. We have a gang of Red-shafted Flickers at The Ranch and their call is a near copy of the Pileated’s though their drilling noise is quite different. So using our ears to determine they are here hasn’t been an aid. We have four suet feeders placed about which are always busy but they don’t seem to be bringing the Pileated’s in, at least enough for our pleasure. So off to the books I went.

 

I found pretty quickly that Pileateds prefer feeders with tail rests. I assume that being the size of a crow, hanging from a suet cage alone is either not possible for feeding or just not comfortable so they don’t use them. You can buy commercial tail-rest suet feeders but they are kinda pricey. I decided to go home built. I grabbed the chainsaw-on-a-stick, cut off a piece of limb, attached a $3 suet cage on it and hung it from a tree. In less than 36 hours we saw a Pileated feeding on the new feeder! We had seen sign before that of them eating from it, but didn’t actually see them on the feeder. Ok, so we got a Pileated feeding one time from the new feeder. That doesn’t make it successful.

The next day I’m sitting at my desk and see this dark form out of the corner of my eye. I turn to see the Pileated on the tree out the window. I no sooner than told Sharon and it flew around the corner of the home. We raced through the house in the direction it flew and saw it on the new feeder feeding. Two days in a row, now we were feeling a little more confident of the new feeder is working. As it turned out, we were fortunate being able watch the Pileated work the feeder for quite a while. Then we were treated for another twenty minutes watching the Pileated check out a number of different trees on The Ranch not truly foraging, not really sure what it was doing. In all, we had over forty minutes observing a great bird that was one of the three target species I wanted to enjoy at The Ranch. We’re getting closer – biology is working.

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