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Monday, November 30, 2015

Pileated Woodpecker Scaling on a Tree.

Pileated Woodpecker's are numerous on Sanibel Island.

We followed this female Pileated Woodpecker one morning.

We saw her scaling bark off Mangrove Trees.

Scaled areas near where she was feeding

She landed and began to pound away at the bark,

striking blows beneath it,

and a large piece of bark fell away.

At one point, we saw her long tongue extended out.

She would poke her bill in at the edges of the scaled bark.

You can see her tongue going beneath the edge of the bark, here

and here,

and in this close-up.

We had an opportunity one morning at the Sanibel Lighthouse park to follow a Pileated Woodpecker. We watched the female in the above photos work over some Mangrove Trees, partially dead from damage done by Hurricane Charley in 2004. She whacked off chunks of bark and at one point we saw a fairly large chunk fall after she struck repeated blows. Later we went to some of the areas she had scaled and felt the bark and found it was tightly adhered to the tree. It was hard for us to pull any off.

One of the great things about digital photography is that you see amazing things when you blow up your photos. Our photos showed the long tongue of this female Pileated that tapers at the tip. How cool is that. Reminds us of seeing the tongues of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds when we watched through our binos as they perched near our feeders in NH. In the Birds of North America Pileated Woodpecker account written by Evelyn L. Bull and Jerome A. Jackson, it says the Pileated, "uses long, extensible, pointed tongue with barbs and sticky saliva to catch and extract ants from tunnels." This female was using her long tongue to poke into the sides of the scaled areas. Intriguing. At one point, we saw some tiny ants going under the bark and wondered if that was what she was getting. What an unusual opportunity we had to witness up-close-and-personal the feeding techniques of this female Pileated Woodpecker. Thank you digital camera and woodpecker.

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