Ya'll would not believe how excited I was when this morning I saw this giant woodpecker fly right to a dead branch of a native Cherry Tree outside my window and start pecking! I have only had the privilege of seeing this type of woodpecker two other times in my life in the last 9 years of living in the smokey mountains - they are HUGE woodpeckers, the second largest in North America and are hard to stalk or get a glimpse of. This one was the smaller of the three I have seen (and is female), but just as powerful a presence and just as striking with it's strong colorful markings and red mohawk head.
They make loud wild jungle cries, which you can listen to at Enature.com... click here!
The first time I ever saw a Pileated Woodpecker it was tremendous, I had never seen a bird so big. I was living in Bethel, NC in the Pisgah National Forest, the woodpecker had landed on a wooden outbuilding behind the house as I had been quietly standing there. It had not seen me and we were hardly 10 feet apart, when it did see me it did not seem to care I was there- we locked in a long unifying stare that I could never put a time frame on. I was in awe and wished I could see another one like it after it finally flew off.
The second time I saw one of these woodpeckers I was sitting inside my tiny house in Marshall, NC which was also deep in the woods - some unpainted wood siding had just been put on a small portion of the house. I was totally alone when I heard something hammering so loud on the side of the house I thought a human was pounding the back of the house with a sledge hammer! It was deafening and scared the crap out of me. I slowly walked to the back of the house, as I heard more frantic hammering but I could hear no human moving around back there. When I got around the corner of the house, there was the giant woodpecker slamming away at the wood. I had got my wish to see one again. :)
Info from enature.com: "After the extremely rare Ivory-billed Woodpecker (Campephilus principalis), this is the largest woodpecker in North America. Despite its size, this elegant woodpecker is often shy and hard to observe. Obtaining a close view of one usually requires careful stalking. Although primarily a forest bird, the "Logcock" has recently become adapted to civilization and has become relatively numerous even on the outskirts of large cities, where its presence is most easily detected by its loud, ringing call and by its large, characteristically rectangular excavations in trees. Its staple food consists of carpenter ants living in fallen timber, dead roots, and stumps. The woodpecker excavates fist-sized rectangular cavities, then uses its enormously long, sticky tongue to reach the ant burrows...
17" (43 cm). A crow-sized woodpecker. Black with white neck stripes, conspicuous white wing linings, and prominent red crest. Male has red "mustache," female has black...
Lays 4 white eggs in a tree cavity."