Apr 29 2010


Published by at 7:35 am under Schenley Park,Songbirds

Lately I've been getting an extra dose of bird life by walking through Schenley Park on my way to work.  The route takes longer but I'm rewarded by glimpses of birds before I have to sit indoors.

The other day I had more than a glimpse.  A male pileated woodpecker jumped and shouted among the trees below the Steve Falloon Trail, claiming the space as his own.  All he needed was a female pileated to make his life complete, but none had noticed him so he made a lot of noise and flashed his wings to attract attention.  He certainly got my attention.  He was stunning.

Eventually he also got the attention of a blue jay who considered him a threat.  The blue jay dove at the woodpecker with hardly a sound, though one of them make a "chuck" noise at each attack.

Pileated woodpeckers are much larger than blue jays (twice their size!) and they have long dangerous beaks.  The blue jay didn't think about that, but he should have.  At one point he made a close pass at the woodpecker and the pileated closed his beak on the blue jay's belly.  The next thing I noticed, the woodpecker had a tuft of blue jay belly feathers in his bill.


The blue jay left quickly.  I'm sure he agrees that that woodpecker was stunning.

(photo by Chuck Tague)

10 responses so far

10 Responses to “Stunning”

  1. Jennieon 29 Apr 2010 at 10:10 am

    The pileated woodpecker was very patient, must have hoped the blue jay would just lose interest and go away. Thanks for sharing the beautiful closeup.

  2. Peteron 29 Apr 2010 at 11:41 am

    I’ve been hoping to see a pileated for a couple years now. I didn’t know we had any in Schenley, but should have guessed given all the others I’ve seen. I usually just follow along the lower panther hollow or bridle trails and so it’s been a few weeks since I followed this one (which I didn’t know till now had a name), thetrees were barely starting to come to life last time I went. I think I’ll be following the Steve Falloon trail more often now. I hope I catch a glimpse of this guy.

  3. faith Cornellon 29 Apr 2010 at 11:55 am

    Long ago when my children were small I lived where I had a yard & hung clothes outside & one Spring a pilated woodpecker dove at me & my clothespins. He was huge. He hung around a long time noisily. Calling his love I suppose. They are beautiful tho.

  4. Donnaon 29 Apr 2010 at 11:57 am

    Pileated woodpeckers are certainly impressive. We are lucky to have a nesting pair near us. They always announce their presence by their loud cheering & hammering!

  5. Lauren Conkleon 29 Apr 2010 at 1:45 pm

    One year we were lucky enough to have a female pileated as a regular at our feeder. It sure was fun to watch her chase the evil starlings and grackles away.

  6. myontzon 29 Apr 2010 at 5:15 pm

    I just took a picture of two of these woodpeckers on a tree in my front yard! One has a darker head then the other. Would the lighter one have been the female? They were kind of chasing each other around the tree and then the one with the lighter head just sat on the ground and watched the other. They are beautiful, beautiful birds!

  7. Sophiaon 29 Apr 2010 at 6:28 pm

    Cool! Pileated woodpeckers are among my favorite kind of birds. I used to be able to attract a couple of them to my suet feeder. It was amazing seeing these huge birds up close like that! Thanks for sharing this picture and story. 🙂

  8. Joy K.on 29 Apr 2010 at 7:05 pm

    I am so jealous. I desperately want to see one in person.

  9. Kate St. Johnon 29 Apr 2010 at 10:12 pm

    Female pileated woodpeckers do have less red on their heads. Their foreheads are black/gray and their moustache stripes are black instead of red as shown on the male above. Here’s a cool photo of a pileated male and female in which you can see those differences:

  10. Jim Greenbergon 11 Mar 2012 at 7:36 pm

    Hi, Kate,

    I’ve been looking for a place to report the following: In the afternoon of March 7, as I was walking down the upper Falls Ravine trail in Frick Park, I heard a rather slow chopping sound. As I looked for a source, my gaze was directed to a high branch where I spotted the silhouette of a pileated woodpecker, pecking at what sounded like a hollow branch. I’d heard this sound only once before, in Acadia National Park, but I remembered that it came from a pileated woodpecker. I had never seen one in Pittsburgh before last week.

    Best regards,
    Jim Greenberg

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