The amazing pileated woodpecker
Photos courtesy of GarySoper@wildlifeinnature.com
The loud hammering sounds catch my attention; movement and a flash of red draw my eyes toward the trunk of a tree, where the drummer, a female pileated woodpecker, is focused on her search for insects. Chips of bark and fine splinters and bits of wood could be seen flying away from the tree as she chiseled with deliberate and powerful strikes into the storm-damaged remains of the deformed snag this past week just south of the Kankakee River. The crow-sized pileated woodpecker, also known as the log-cock, probably is the largest woodpecker north of Mexico, and I say probably because the ivory-billed woodpecker that once flourished in the southeastern parts of the United States and Cuba is larger and still is listed as a “critically endangered” species. There are hopes of rediscovery of the ivory-billed woodpecker, encouraged by the debated sighting in Arkansas in 2004, but according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, it is most likely extinct, making the pileated the largest.