Friday, April 3, 2009

Visit from the Pileated Woodpecker

During the years we lived in a rental home in nearby Vienna, VA, we had a couple of back yard feeder visits by North America's largest extant woodpecker, the Pileated.  With the likely extinction of the Ivory-billed, the crow-sized Pileated is the largest to be seen in the United States, dwarfing its smaller cousins.  Still, though we'd had a Pileated visit us before, they're not exactly frequent feeder visitors, and as the Pileated is a favorite bird of both Beth's and mine, we were rather hoping that the woods around Chateau Papillon would bring one to our yard.

Over the winter, I heard several Pileateds in the woods, and Beth saw a pair fly over our yard.  And yesterday during yard work, we both saw another, though it didn't linger long enough for me to get a photo.

So we were quite pleased to see this fine male Pileated pay our back yard suet feeder a visit today.  (For perspective, the suet feeder he's hanging from is about four to five inches wide and tall.)  Oddly enough, he chose the plain suet cage, and not the special "large woodpeckers" suet feeder visible in the foreground; the wooden tongue on the larger feeder gives larger woodpeckers a place to brace their tails while they sup.

We're hoping he'll be a frequent visitor now that he knows what good eats we've got in our yard!

One other back yard birding note: I'm almost certain I saw a Purple Finch today at our feeders; though the similar House Finch is much more common, the bird I saw lacked significant streaking on his flanks and had much more red on his body than I typically see on House Finches.  That brings the Chateau Papillon bird list total to 37.

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