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Pileated Woodpeckers Raising Young

7-2-19 pileated and young 0U1A0579Once their eggs (usually 3-5) hatch, Pileated Woodpeckers, like all parents, are kept busy providing their young with food. The nestlings are fed about every hour when small, but this stretches to every two hours after the nestlings are about a week old.

At first the adults enter the cavity to feed their young and only the tips of the parents’ tails are visible. Eventually the young manage to reach the cavity opening and can be seen at the entrance to the nest hole, waiting for food to be delivered. As they age, the nestlings find their voice when hungry and the woods reverberate with their distinctive and very adult-like call ( (Photo: female adult Pileated Woodpecker and male nestling)

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7 responses

  1. What a joy to see! I’m down south in VA for 6 weeks and enjoying the mockingbirds and very vocal cardinals, but miss the woodpeckers. Thanks for the post.

    July 2, 2019 at 7:55 am

  2. Alice Pratt

    Wasn’t expecting a post ’till tomorrow 😁 It’s so enjoyable to read all the info you provide, Mary, and beautiful photos. I listened to all their sounds and looked on the range map. No wonder I’ve never seen them, they aren’t nesting in southeastern MA or south eastern CT. I’m so impressed by their beaks.

    July 2, 2019 at 7:58 am

  3. moscowwoods

    Several years ago I watched Pileated Woodpeckers begin to hollow out an Aspen about 25′ from my porch. Then after a period of no activity – I knew that Pileated’s will often excavate more than one nest – I saw one of the parents enter the nest hole, followed by wee screeching noises. From then on until fledging, I had a front row seat to the entire process. And for two summers following, Northern Flickers moved in. Luxury bird watching!

    July 2, 2019 at 8:22 am

  4. Penny

    Did not realize how early sexing plumage appeared! Great photos, Mary!

    July 2, 2019 at 8:50 am

  5. Louisa Cunningham

    Re brood patches, I wondered how pileated woodpeckers got through the winter and got this information from a friend derived from Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds, which other subscribers might find interesting?
    Passerines have a single median brood patch controlled by hormones. It forms several days before the bird lays its first egg. By the time the young birds are independent, the skin of the parent’s brood patch has returned to normal, and becomes refeathered during fall molt. So it sounds as if your woodpeckers will be plenty warm in the winter.

    July 2, 2019 at 3:36 pm

    • Alice Pratt

      Good to keep your belly warm 😁

      July 2, 2019 at 3:45 pm

    • Thanks, Louisa. I sometimes forget and assume that readers know more than they probably do, and I forget to explain all that I should. Thank you for taking care of brood patches for me!

      July 2, 2019 at 4:03 pm

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