Sunday, April 15, 2012

Pileated Puzzle Post

Last weekend, as I potted a couple of tomato plants, I could hear a pileated chattering in my woods. That isn't unusual here at PFHQ, so I ignored it rather than grabbing my camera.

My hands were dirty and the light was going fast ... not worth heading back there ...
 I kept potting.
The pileated kept chattering.
I mean, he really kept chattering, on and on.

Okay, maybe I was missing something uber neat.
I rinsed off my dirty hands, dried them on my pants, and grabbed my camera.

I followed the chattering sounds back to my excavated shooting range and a large pileated flew up from the floor of the range and onto the upper berm.

He flitted about there for a moment and ceased the birdy banter.

I paused, hoping he might go back to whatever it was that was so worth all the broadcast effort.

He was on to me though and only stayed for a moment or two, and then he swooped off into the deep shade of the forest.

These pictures are of the side of the range and at the original location of the pileated.
The range is about 4 feet deep here and a fresh excavation had been made in the side near the bottom.

An excavation with pileated tracks and ...

... pileated beak-shaped indentations in the sandy sidewalls of my shooting range.

I assume Woody was slurping up ants or termites from the sandy soil, although my casual inspection of the excavation didn't reveal any of these.

Cornell University says this about the feeding habits of Pileateds, "In some diet studies, ants constituted 40 percent of the diet, and up to 97 percent in some individuals."

So, mystery solved ... I know this though,  ... the next time I hear a pileated chattering away without taking a breath, I'm immediately grabbing the camera and going into stealth mode.

So many mysteries ... so little time.


Aunty Belle said...

Aw, that fella jes' wanted ya to admire his triumph--he found the mother load.

Readin' backwards--amazin' cherokee bean vine--call Jack an' the Bean Stalk today!

I'se always so charmed to read an see somethin' about Florida life that nobody else is payin' attention to.

Sayre said...

What an awesome discovery! I hope you're not planning on doing any bullet-shooting for a while... Let your feathered friend mine the range for a bit!

robin andrea said...

That is such a cool discovery. Yes, next time go quickly and stealthily with the camera!

Pablo said...

No sand in my woods, though plenty of ants and at least one pileated WP.