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Photo © Rob Curtis / The Early Birder

Pileated woodpecker

This large black-and-white woodpecker with a huge red crest provided the inspiration for the cartoon character Woody Woodpecker. This species is often misidentified as an ivory-billed woodpecker, but the pileated is common and expected in the eastern third of the state where big, tall trees occur. It is colloquially known as “Indian hen” — the first name refers to its loud drumming and the second to its one vocalization reminiscent of a clucking chicken. Because of my family’s abiding love for pileateds, we have not removed the stumps of four mature trees that died in our urban yard in over a decade. Leaving this heaviest part of the tree saved us lots of money, and the pileateds, to this day, thank us for it with repeated visits to search for tasty insects deep inside the rotten wood.


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