There are few birds that are any flashier or eye-catching than a Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) in flight. The Pileated Woodpecker is Texas’ largest woodpecker. The body is similar to that of a crow, but the wingspan is much greater. The coloration is predominately black, with a striking red crested head. The feathers underneath the wing are white as is the face. A black band across the eyes lends a rakish air. The beak is slate black and another band of black runs from the lower beak to the neck. Often there is a red cheek splash. Woody the Woodpecker is probably the best known example of his species. Many people believe Woody is a Red-headed Woodpecker, but his crest proudly announces he is a Pileated Woodpecker. In areas that are dominated with smaller woodpecker species, Red-headed or Red-bellied Woodpeckers are sometimes mistaken for the larger Pileated. Once spotted, they are impossible to forget or confuse with another bird. Mating begins in early spring as the male excavates a large nest with multiple entrances to attract a mate. Once mated, the pair will remain year-round protecting their territory. Juveniles and floaters are tolerated during the winter months. Both parents will sit the nest and will even retrieve fallen eggs. The ability to physically retrieve fallen eggs and by extrapolation newly hatched young is rare in birds. The nest will be utilized only once by the Pileated Woodpeckers. These abandoned cavities are a boon to many other species that utilize nest-cavities, but are unable to create them themselves. Even without seeing a Pileated Woodpecker, you can identify a pair’s territory by looking for square to rectangular holes of the nest cavity or [...]
CenterPoint once again steps in to help our feathered friends. Last year David McAden, WR&E volunteer and CenterPoint Energy employee contacted CenterPoint to help WR&E successfully re-nest two baby great horned owls the story was chronicled in the Summer 2008 newsletter. This spring, David called the Wildlife Center concerning a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers (Dryocopus pileatus) who had drilled completely through a power pole in the Dickinson/Santa Fe area. The largest woodpecker in the area, once seen, it can not be confused with any other bird. As large as a crow, the bright red crest crowns a handsome shiny black bird with white wing linings. The top bill is black and the lower bill is a medium tan (horn) colored. The pole was seriously weakened by several excavations that fully penetrated the pole. The weight of the lines put it in danger of snapping. CenterPoint agreed to preserve the woodpecker’s home. A new concrete pole was erected and the power lines transferred. The male and female woodpeckers were last seen enjoying their home while the sturdy new pole was doing its job. It is very rewarding to see companies peacefully coexisting with our native wildlife.