The Bug Geek

Insects. Doing Science. Other awesome, geeky stuff.

Pileated Woodpecker/Supermodel

I was rushing out the door to my car…I had to drive my mother-in-law to a doctor’s appointment.   As I fumbled in my pocket for the keys, I heard it: 


Coming from just over my left shoulder.  In my old, buggy maple tree.   I’d recognize that “thock” anywhere.  I haven’t heard it that close by for a long time. 

I dash to the door, fly up the stairs, grab my camera, zoom back down, tiptoe through the deep snow of my front lawn in my sneakers…and shoot like crazy (you can click to embiggen)… 

Pileated Woodpecker, going in for the kill

I felt like a fashion photographer working with a seasoned model…he was FABULOUS and not at all shy…WORK IT, BABY!!! 

Digging around...

Click…click…click….Oh, YEAH!!! 

A little tongue saucy!!!

Click…click…oh, you are a FIERCE woodpecker, FIERCE!  GRRR, baby, very GRRR!!!


My patience was rewarded with this MONEY SHOT (with which I am greatly pleased):

A Pileated Woodpecker’s lunch – a longhorn beetle larva

 Incredible bird AND a beetle, all in one!!! 

(Aaaaand, I’m spent!)

And then I threw my camera in the car, drove like a bat out of hell, and arrived at MIL’s with about 30 seconds to spare. 

27 responses to “Pileated Woodpecker/Supermodel

  1. Rachel February 22, 2010 at 9:14 PM

    C, this is bad-ass!!! How in the world do you get so damn lucky! Awesome, thanks for sharing them with us.

  2. Jason February 22, 2010 at 10:21 PM

    I’m using this post in my lesson tomorrow: Gr. 2 Science. Topic: How different animal eat.


    • TGIQ February 23, 2010 at 9:14 AM

      How cool! Glad to share these photos with some littles 🙂 If I wasn’t planning on teaching university students, I’d probably pick grades 1-2… Enjoy your class!

  3. jason February 23, 2010 at 6:54 AM

    Hysterical dialogue and stunning photos! He’s a real looker. And you got the money shot at the end.

  4. MObugs41 February 23, 2010 at 10:53 AM

    These photos are great. This bird was my nemesis for many many years, until for the first time a year ago I spotted a pair of them flying through the Ozark woods near Lake of the Ozark State Park. They are certainly an impressive bird! Your photos are amazing, as is your commentary. Great shots of an awesome bird!!!

    • TGIQ February 23, 2010 at 11:11 AM

      The size is really something to behold…I suspect that’s why they’re not terribly skittish (in my experience)…it was incredible to watch him work, too, HUGE chunks of bark flying everywhere…

  5. Ted C. MacRae February 23, 2010 at 2:59 PM

    Oh man, money shot for sure! Congratulations.

    • TGIQ February 23, 2010 at 3:01 PM

      I was doing a not-so-small happy dance over this series of pics once I got back to my computer…for serious.

    • Ted C. MacRae February 23, 2010 at 3:01 PM

      p.s. I just hope that wasn’t a Sugar maple borer (Glycobius speciosus). Don’t listen to what the Forest Service says about this insect being one of the most destructive pests of sugar maple – it is actually declining in much of its range and has gotten quite rare.

      • TGIQ February 23, 2010 at 3:03 PM

        Any idea if G. speciosus is partial to the higher areas of the tree/canopy area? My maples are probably riddled with whatever it was, they’re on their way out…

  6. peteryeeles February 23, 2010 at 5:30 PM

    Great series of photos, of a rather handsome bird!

    Glad to hear you got to the MIL on time… dangerous game you were playing, and I doubt “photographing a cool bird” would have been sufficient excuse! 🙂

    • TGIQ February 23, 2010 at 7:13 PM

      Ha. I told her I was almost late because of a woodpecker. She was like, “Whaaaaa???” LOL She knows I’m a geek though, so it wouldn’t be entirely unexpected of me.

  7. Carly February 24, 2010 at 8:25 AM

    Absolutely stunning, my friend! We were hiking the Jack Pine Trail last week and came across dozens of chickadees, naturally. But tried desperately to find a woodpecker we kept hearing…but to no avail.

    Maybe we’ll have to hike at your place to see them!

    Keep up the wonderful work!

    • TGIQ February 24, 2010 at 9:17 AM

      They can be sneaky…they hear you coming and scoot around to the other side of the tree, the little brats 🙂 Sometimes if you can pinpoint the bird to one tree, then sit quietly and wait it out, they’ll relax and come to the other side of the tree again. The little woodpeckers are much more skittish than these big guys, though, in my experience. I saw one on a telephone pole in Ottawa South once…he was 4 feet off the ground and let me walk right up to him, maybe 6 feet away, it was crazy!

  8. myrmecos February 24, 2010 at 6:45 PM

    Ha! That’s awesome. I love the grub shot.

  9. Joy March 4, 2010 at 8:10 PM

    I want to see one of these so badly it hurts. What fabulous pictures!

  10. Larry Jordan March 5, 2010 at 10:43 PM

    Awesome shots of the Pileated Woodpecker! These are the best I’ve ever seen. The shot with the grub at the end is priceless, the back-lit crown, grub in beak, fabulous!

    • TGIQ March 6, 2010 at 10:53 AM

      Thanks for the kind compliments, Larry! I think I am more proud of these pics than any other I have ever taken.

      I have a few other pics where the sun is making that crest look positively aflame with orange highlights.

  11. Amber Coakley March 7, 2010 at 12:47 AM

    Best looks I’ve ever seen of the Pileated as well! So very gorgeous. I’ve only seen one once, and you’re right – they are really large birds, as woodpeckers go. Awesome!

  12. Pingback: See ya, 2010… « Fall To Climb

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: