View 171: A Hole in a Tree

I came upon a dead yellow birch tree in the woods and found a freshly constructed hole high up in the trunk.

A hole in a dead yellow birch tree.

A hole in a dead yellow birch tree. Nikon D70/80-400VR, 1/400s, f/5.6, ISO 200, EV +0.7, 400mm focal length.

Whoever created the hole made a mess at the foot of the tree.

Wood chips from the dead yellow birch tree littering the forest floor.

Wood chips from the dead yellow birch tree littering the forest floor. Nikon D70/80-400VR, 1/500s, f/5.6, ISO 200, EV +0.7, 400mm focal length.

Oh, wait, what’s that? Hey, it’s a Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus).  A male by the size of the bird.

The head of a Pileated Woodpecker pops out of the hole in the dead yellow birch tree.

The head of a Pileated Woodpecker pops out of the hole in the dead yellow birch tree. Nikon D70/80-400VR, 1/400s, f/5.6, ISO 200, EV +0.7, 400mm focal length, cropped.

A few minutes later he showed me how all the wood chips got down on the ground as he continued to excavate the nesting cavity for his mate.

A male Pileated Woodpecker throws out wood chips from the nesting cavity in the dead yellow birch tree.

A male Pileated Woodpecker throws out wood chips from the nesting cavity in the dead yellow birch tree. Nikon D70/80-400VR, 1/200s, f/5.6, ISO 200, EV +1.0, 400mm focal length, cropped.

I never saw his mate but did hear her calling to him.  Obviously, she was giving him directions as to the building of the nesting cavity. 😉  I hope to continue to photograph the pair throughout the Spring.  Yes, we got some real Spring weather this weekend.

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19 Responses to View 171: A Hole in a Tree

  1. Anna says:

    when i saw the hole size I figured that was the type of wood pecker.. big bold things aren’t they. Looking forward to their series.
    Anna
    http://www.akginspiration.com

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  2. Carsten says:

    Lucky find Scott.
    You couldn’t have constructed the third image better i PS.
    Images like this could make me look up when I’m in the woods 🙂

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    • Actually, not much luck was involved as someone else told me about the location. 🙂 But, it is a good thing to do anywhere you are photographing to look up and down. It is amazing what people do not notice or see by keeping their eyes only front and center.

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  3. Gerry says:

    That third image is priceless, Scott. I see–and hear–pileateds all the time but I’ve never witnessed that particular part of the action. They’re beautiful to watch, flying together in great swooping arcs through the woods. In my experience, btw, the males and females are pretty much the same size and both will hammer away on the excavation. The male has that red moustache and his red crest goes all the way to his beak. The female has the red crest but a black forehead patch. I can’t get over that third photo.

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  4. montucky says:

    You sure took full advantage of an excellent opportunity! Great find and photos!

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  5. Milkayphoto says:

    Lucky you! Those critters are impressive-looking aren’t they? Yesterday morning as I lie in bed I could hear the familiar ‘rat-a-tat-tat-tat’ as some species of woodpecker was hammering away at our trees.

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  6. Kathy says:

    Good job, Scott! What a treasure–both discovering that pileated woodpecker and getting such incredible photos of it. I love the fourth picture. A wood chip in his open mouth! (Upon starting to view the photos above, I was about to congratulate your job of photographing a hole in a tree. It seems extremely challenging to photograph holes in trees–don’t know why.) I really like this post. We have a pileated woodpecker skull. Maybe should post that someday?

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    • When I first got to the tree, the Sun was at a good angle to illuminate the back of the hole. In the last photo, you can see where the Sun was no longer doing that. It is challenging mainly because of the having to photograph them from below. There is a way I can get higher to photograph them which should yield even better results.

      Sure..or once I get a better photo of these birds, I’ll ask if I can borrow that skull photo.

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  7. Robin says:

    What a cool find! I’m so glad you’re sharing this with us as it’s not something I’ve ever seen before. I look forward to following along with you as you watch them throughout the spring.

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  8. Pingback: The Don Gould Memorial Walk « Torch Lake Views

  9. Karma says:

    Wow, great pictures – and how neat to actually find the bird in action! I had a lucky bird experience this past weekend too – but not lucky enough to get its picture.

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