WHAT A BIRD IN THE CAMPGROUND!
I think I have mentioned the bird activity near the main shower stall at the campground. A pair of Pileated Woodpeckers have carved out a nest in a pole holding electric lines. The hole is a neat oval, and over the past month has seen the hatching of eggs, and now the feeding of the young. These are among our largest woodpeckers, about the size of a crow. They have a sharp silver colored bill that chisels trees in search of insects such as Carpenter Ants and Beetles. They also use that tool to pick berries, and a sticky tongue licks up the ants.
These birds mate for life, and establish themselves in a territory year around. Once the offspring have fledged, they also remain with their parents to get lessons in feeding. All of these birds have that striking red crest though there are subtle differences to distinguish the genders and immature birds. The adult males have red on their cheeks as seen in this drawing. The adult eyes are yellow, and the immatures are brown! Let's hope they stay still to determine that difference! Below are pictures shared by a noted bird photographer, Robin Robinson. They show two young birds waiting to be fed, while sticking their heads out of the nest hole. Both parents tend to feed these youngsters, regurgitating food into their mouths.
We first became aware of the presence of these birds about a month ago. How they happened to pick a power line pole to make their nest is surprising. It is fully visible to all driving the road or heading for the showers. The nest cavity is dug by both the male and female, but will not be used again. The cavity is unlined except for wood chips. The clutch size may be 1-6, but is usually 3 or 4. We think there maybe 3 in our family. The eggs are incubated by both parents and are naked and helpless when hatched. The young are ready to leave the nest in about a month, so unfortunately, most campers will only be able to view the empty nest site unless they catch a glimpse of the family in flight.
Here is another of Robin's pictures showing a feeding episode. It is rather amazing how they can cling to the pole while feeding. You also can get a feel for the size of the hole which must make for a tight squeeze during brooding.
Besides keeping track of these amazing birds, we've had heavy rain to deal with in recent days. Let's hope the accompanying high winds did not bring down any more trees in the campground. They have still been busy cleaning up after that wicked storm back in late February. Right now, the Rugosa Roses and Beach Peas are providing color, along with a huge volume of Buttercups. If you look closely, you may find some ripe Strawberries to tantalize your taste buds. Gooseberries are forming and ripening also! Come on down and track the Pileateds! 6/8/10 Ronnie, enthralled.