Pileated woodpecker makes Riverside Park its home

Kathleen Duncan

April 17, 2014 at 10:04 p.m.
Updated April 17, 2014 at 11:18 p.m.

A pileated woodpecker sits on a log in Riverside Park.

A pileated woodpecker sits on a log in Riverside Park.

A bright shock of red fluttered through the morning sunlight as the vibrant bird flew from tree to tree in Riverside Park. It worked on a log for a moment before continuing on to visit cool perches and leafy lookouts throughout Grover's Bend.

This local resident of the Victoria area is the pileated woodpecker.

The woodpecker lives here "likely in low densities. Their habitat tends to be mature deciduous or mixed deciduous-coniferous woodlands," said Rich Kostecke, associate director of Conservation at the Nature Conservancy.

In the Crossroads, Kostecke said, the woodpecker probably keeps to the Guadalupe River, which explains why he was soaring around Grover's Bend near the water.

They enjoy consuming carpenter ants, though they will also eat insects such as wood-boring beetle larvae, termites, flies, caterpillars, cockroaches and grasshoppers, he said.

Despite this varied diet of insects, "they also eat wild fruits and nuts, including greenbrier, hackberry, sassafras, blackberries, sumac berries, poison ivy, holly, dogwood, persimmon and elderberry," he said.

They like to forage in dead trees, stumps and logs making excavations that "can be a foot or more long and go deep inside the wood." Kostecke said, according to the Cornell All About Birds website, which he pointed out is a good reference point for bird queries.

These crimson-headed fowl are monogamous and claim large territories, Kostecke said. Therefore, it would be rare to see more than two birds together at a time.

If walking through the park, you may notice these woodpeckers because they can be heard from their loud thunks as they excavate and are hard to miss because of their large size. They are the largest woodpecker in the U.S. - about crow-sized - Kostecke said.

On a sunny day, the red crown on this woodpecker can be eye-catching, so it should not be hard to see this bird again if you're quiet around Grover's Bend on a pleasant day.



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