We have had a pair of pileated woodpeckers that live on or around our wooded property for several years now. While the tremendous sound of their drilling is easy to identify, it is always a challenge to see them, despite their brilliant red head. This year, I have spotted the male on a few occasions feeding from a stump in our garden. However, creeping up on this guy to get a photo is just about impossible, and I do not have a telephoto lens. I followed him on foot and snapped several photos as he flew from tree to tree today, but this was a close as I could get. Notice the full frame shot below versus the zoomed in version above. Hopefully, I will be able to catch him on that garden stump again and catch him on film, up close from my sliding glass door.
If you have never seen one in person, it is difficult to appreciate the size of the pileated woodpeckers—truly huge, beautiful creatures with bodies as large as 19 inches tall with a 30 inch wingspan. They live in wooded areas that have plentiful dead wood for them to harvest ants, caterpillars, and other insects. A pair will claim a territory and defend it year-round, though they might make an exception for another pair to stay temporarily during the winter. They live approximately 10 years and mate for life, though if one of the pair dies, the other will often find a new partner. They will have one brood of young per year, typically three to five eggs.
If you live near a wooded area, keep your ear out for a quick successions of loud drumming and try to catch a glimpse of this amazing bird.