Pileated woodpeckers are fascinating birds, different from most. They don’t capture their prey in flight like a falcon, or pull worms from the ground like a robin. They take advantage of the bug infestations in the wood of standing dead trees to get their meals.
Their whole body is designed to support this adaptation. Their beak is long and thin, perfect for wedging off pieces of bark to get to the grubs underneath. Even their skulls have a special extra layer of protection that stops them from rattling their brains every time they start pecking away.
Pileated woodpeckers are certainly not shy about their noisy work, and their garrulous calls can be heard accompanied by the hollow sound of knocking in most Canadian woodlands.
However, few woodpeckers spend this much time on a single tree as this industrious fellow from the woods of New Brunswick. It’s possible that this woodpecker’s territory is small, and it must make do with the resources it has. Likewise, it’s possible that this particular tree is just so bursting with protein-rich insects that it simply can’t tear itself away.
Whatever the reason, it’s amazing to see how these remarkable birds play their part in the decomposition of dead trees, grabbing a meal as they break down the wood.