All posts by Josh

Woodpeckers: Pileated Woodpecker

Photo of Pileated Woodpecker (male)

Of New England's nine* species of woodpeckers, the Pileated Woodpecker (PIWO) is by far the largest and the only type with a bright red crest. In flight, PIWOs flash white wing-patches. Males and females are largely similar, though only the males have red foreheads and red mustache stripes.

PIWOs feed extensively on carpenter ants and routinely drill deep, rectangular excavations to uncover their prey in tree trunks. Though PIWOs are often blamed for turning healthy trees into piles of wood chips, trees are most often dead (or dying) and thoroughly infested with wood-chewing ants (or other insects) before hole creation begins.

To learn more about these crow-sized forest-dwellers, visit All About Birds. To view the following images in full-size, click here.

*Northern Flicker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and Downy, Hairy, Red-bellied, and Pileated Woodpecker, account for the 6 common species; American Three-toed and Black-backed Woodpecker are residents of northern boreal forests; Red-headed Woodpecker occurs annually in New England in small numbers, but is much more common to our south and west.

17.24 | Nature Notes (Jun 11-17)

Photo of Snowy Plover (left) and Piping Plover
Snowy Plover (left) and Piping Plover | Georgetown, ME | 13 Jun 2017

Highlights of the Week

Early in the week, I twitched three very rare birds (meaning I observed birds found and reported by other birders). On Monday, I traveled to Windham, NH to see the state's first Brown Booby (a tropical seabird). That evening, I witnessed a Magnificent Frigatebird (another tropical seabird) flying off Prout's Neck in Scarborough, ME. Then, on Tuesday, a first for the state of Maine Snowy Plover at Reid State Park in Georgetown was my third Life Bird in 30 hours! And two days later, I heard my FOY Yellow-billed Cuckoos at the Brownfield Bog.

I saw a few female Snapping Turtles traveling to/from their nesting sites.

I identified my first-ever Red-bellied Snake (Storeria occipitomaculata) in Kennebunkport. Unfortunately, the slim creature was found dead on a roadside.

Wild Edible of the Week

I ate a number of clusters of Black Locust flowers, in salads, soups, and simply fresh off the tree.

Nature Challenge of the Week (for you, the reader)

Stop and smell the wild roses (or other fragrant flowers).


 

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17.23 | Nature Notes (Jun 4-10)

Photo of Spruce Grouse
Spruce Grouse | Roque Bluffs, ME | 4 Jun 2017

Highlights of the Week

Mouse-ear Hawkweed (Hieracium pilosella) -- a carpet-forming species native to Europe -- and other related yellow-flowered Hawkweeds are blooming in nutrient-poor lawns.

I crossed paths with many butterflies, including Canadian Tiger Swallowtails, an Eastern Comma, and many tiny, mostly unidentified, skippers.

I observed 4 species of ducklings (Wood Duck, Hooded Merganser, Mallard, and American Black Duck) at the Sanford Lagoons. My only FOY bird sighting was a male Spruce Grouse seen during an Acadia Birding Festival van trip.

Wild Edible of the Week

I added immature pollen cones of Eastern White Pine to several of my meals this week. I also gathered extra to put up in my freezer, some of which will be tinctured.

Nature Challenge of the Week (for you, the reader)

Identify (using Newcomb's Wildflower Guide or some other resource) 3 herbaceous wildflowers who have yellow flowers.


 

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My work as a naturalist is supported by readers like you. To pledge a monthly contribution of $1 or more, please visit Patreon. Thank you!

17.22 | Nature Notes (May 28 – Jun 3)

Photo of Big-toothed Poplar seeds

Highlights of the Week

Most evergreen trees have pushed out (or are in the process of pushing out) new light-green growth. The feel of the soft branch tips of some species (like Balsam Fir, American Larch, and the Norway Spruce in my backyard) reminds me of Koosh balls.

Countless, fluffy seeds of Big-toothed and Quaking Poplars fall like spring snowflakes from tree tops.

I saw or heard a handful of FOY birds in my travels, including: Olive-sided Flycatcher and Saltmarsh Sparrow in York County; Mourning Warbler, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Bicknell's Thrush, and Black-backed Woodpecker in Franklin County; and Atlantic Puffin and Arctic Tern at Petit Manan Island in Washington County.

Wild Edible of the Week

I ate about a dozen peeled Curly Dock shoots.

Nature Challenge of the Week (for you, the reader)

Visit a local wetland to find at least 2 dragonfly species.


 

Patreon logo

My work as a naturalist is supported by readers like you. To pledge a monthly contribution of $1 or more, please visit Patreon. Thank you!