27 February 2012


Here in Northwest Montana we have an incredible variety of native birds spanning the gamut from tiny chickadees to bald eagles. Truly the area is a birders mecca.

I love so many of these birds but my second most favorite is the pileated woodpecker. This woodpecker is quite large for a woodpecker, nearly the size of a raven. They  are very colorful and, to my mind,  have almost a prehistoric, raptor look about them. They also have a very distinctive call which I greatly admire. I Googled pileated woodpeckers and nowhere did I find mentioned about their call which I found surprising. It's call is very unique and easy to recognize once you've heard it. I can't put into words what it sounds like. But, it's enchanting to my ear.

What made me think of it was I ran into a pileated woodpecker whilst walking along the Tobacco River last week. It was the call that alerted me to his presence. He was high up in a cottonwood tree right along the trail over looking the river industriously pecking away. I tried to photograph him but between me and the bird were too many branches. This was the best I could do.

Pileated Woodpecker
Over on the River Walk trail, where they have stations of education, there is this image of a pileated and a raccoon which I think is just great.

Pileated Woodpecker and Raccoon River Walk Sign
My most favorite Montana bird?  The loon.

©Kinsey Barnard

1 comment:

Dave said...

Pileated woodpeckers are an indicator species because their excavations in trees are big enough to serve a whole slate of other birds and critters. They drill in trees and snags. When I prescribed silvicultural treatment of a stand of trees, I always took into account the need to retain snags after harvest. There is a problem, because they are very dangerous to the loggers. The trick is to concentrate them on the lower end and edges of the setting so the yarder doesn't come in contact with them.