Friday, April 11, 2008

Letter: Woodpecker Not So Dumb

Say Steve,

Hate to tell you that the so called "dim-witted pileated wood pecker" [see the April 9 story here] actually was not in the same category as the cardinal pecking on a window, rather it was sending a signal that other wood peckers should keep away.

A metal tower makes a lot of noise, and this is a signal going out to the neighborhood that this wood pecker is "Lord of the Realm," unless it gets some kind of challenge from another pileated wood pecker.

Louis Quay

My bad. When I saw the stupid cardinal, I knew enough to research their territorial habits. I just did not think of it for the woodpecker.

But I took a minute to do so and found this, lifted from the California Partners in Flight web site: "Like most woodpeckers, the Pileated Woodpecker drums by forcefully rapping its bill on a tree or other resounding object. Drumming functions as a communication tool among woodpeckers, and serves to both attract a mate as well as for territorial defense."

So it turns out the woodpecker was just picking up chicks. --ST

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