We’ve always been drawn to Pileated Woodpeckers. Who can resist these magnificent birds, with their striking yodel, two-foot wingspan and bright red crests set against more than a foot of jet-black plumage?
So when two of these woodpeckers showed up for several days running in a dead tree right next-door to our campsite, we were captivated. It was hard to get anything done; they’d sound off a dozen times a day, and I’d have to drop everything and see what was going on.
Something was up indeed: It’s springtime – and we had a romance brewing before our prying eyes.
We’ve always had to catch Pileated Woodpeckers in brief glimpses when they’d appear on a birding walk, or zip by overhead on their way to somewhere else. This encounter turned out to be different. The pair decided to build their nesting cavity 30 steps from our spot on the edge of the busy Land Yacht Harbor Airstream park in Central Florida where we’re spending a few weeks. They seemed used to people and didn’t mind my keeping up with their progress.
They chose a tall dead pine and started chopping out their cavity 25 feet up the trunk. The male did most of the work in the beginning, then the female took over. She was tireless, working away for hours at a time, then picking up mouthfuls of chips and tossing them out the front door as if spitting tobacco juice.
Here’s a video of the two working on their nest, to the Beatle’s love song, “I will:”