Last week Pittsburgh Today published a brief article about ecosystem health in the Pittsburgh region. One of their points caught my eye: Pileated woodpeckers (Dryocopus pileatus) have made a big comeback in our area.
I've noticed this too. During Pittsburgh's 2016 Christmas Bird Count last December, many of us found pileated woodpeckers -- so much so that Audubon's summary of the count included this remark: "Pileated Woodpecker was reported at a higher than expected number. 48 individuals represents a new high count for Pittsburgh. "
Without intending it, the topics are related. My hunch is that we have more pileated woodpeckers in Pittsburgh because we have more under-the-bark insects and more dead and dying ash trees, suitable for nesting, since the emerald ash borer came to town 10 years ago.
Woodpeckers are doing really well. It's the only bright spot in the emerald ash borer plague.
(photo credits: Pileated woodpecker by Chuck Tague. Dead ash tree with pileated woodpecker hole by Kate St. John)