On Saturday July 23rd, I returned to Silverwood Park hoping to find the Great Horned owls, only to find that they were not there. I decided to walk around the park looking for some other birds to photograph. I heard and saw this crow sized bird on a tree realizing that it was a pair Pileated Woodpecker. As I followed the birds down a path, I came upon their nest, which they had made in the side of a huge tree.
The Pileated woodpecker is the largest woodpecker in Minnesota. They like to feed mostly on carpenter ants as well as beetles, flies, caterpillars, cockroaches and larvae. You might think that by banging their head on trees might cause brain damage to the bird. But actually, their tongue is super long wrapping around the brain protecting them from brain damage.
These are birds that require large standing trees that are mostly dead. Dead trees are a valuable resource as nest sites and shelters not just for bird, but for animals too. The male does most of the work but the female will contribute when the nest is close to done. Nest construction will take 3-6 weeks and the nest will be 10-12 inches deep. A Pileated woodpecker pair will live year round protecting their territory and nest through the seasons but allowing some species to nest in their territory during the winter. They will have a clutch of 3-5 eggs which will take about a month for them to be fully fledged. Predators at the nest can be Squirrels, Weasels and Martens. For the adult, their predators can be Bald eagles, Barred owls, Cooper’s hawk, Great horned owls and Red-tailed hawks.
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