This time he was interested in foraging on the decaying logs on the ground which is always fun to watch. As I opened the door in response to his call, I caught a glimpse of him as he disappeared below sight-level, landing on the ground in an area where I've known him to forage before.
Pileated woodpeckers eat mostly insects--ants, beetle larvae, termites, flies, spruce budworms, caterpillars, cockroaches, grasshoppers--with their favorite food considered to be the carpenter ant. They find the insects with hearing, sight, and by chiseling decayed wood and probing with their tongue.
In the image above you can see a glimpse of his tongue, a long slender tool that wraps around his skull in a special design that enables long extension. Additionally, woodpecker tongues are sticky and barbed with hair like appendages that make it easy to pick up tiny insects.
The latin name for the Pileated Woodpecker is Dryocopus pileatus. The word dryo comes from the Latin word for tree, and kopis is Latin for dagger. The term "pileated" or "pileatus" means capped or crested, referring to the bird's bright red crest. This woodpecker lives up to the name with his long, chisel-shaped beak and his large crest that becomes even more impressive when raised.
Pileated woodpeckers are attracted to mature forests with dying and decaying limbs, and downed wood. That is what attracted this male to the ground--the split logs that surround a small garden area in the yard. These cut pieces of wood decay over time and the same insects that burrow in the dead limbs of a tree, may also be found in fallen limbs or logs.
He moves on the ground just like he moves on a tree trunk, a scooting type walking motion mixed with hops and jumps. These images were taken on March 31st, a very windy morning and he frequently stopped and froze for a few seconds to look and listen, mostly in the direction of the moving tree limbs. He also pauses amd holds his head up to swallow the food collected on his tongue.
Pileated Woodpecker Family Visit
To hear the pileated calls visit Cornell's site and listen to the sound recording: Cornell's All About Birds
And to see some of my other visits with Pileated Woodpeckers on this blog, visit: Pileated Woodpeckers