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View Diary: Dryocopus pileatus (123 comments)

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  •  I missed seeing our pair this summer. (5+ / 0-)

    We live south of Nashville in Franklin, TN. I only caught a glimpse or two instead of their constant presence of 2010 and 2011. They sure can go through suet so our more plentiful red heads, downeys, and hairies probably didn't missed their  the pair or their fledglings. The woodpecker wars at the suet are fun to watch as is the forced truce that comes from a pileated showing up.

    Our home is in a very large subdivision with one to two plus acre lots. We're outside of town on two acres with several large trees and a spring fed stream running through the middle so we have lots of birds and wildlife all year. Our six foot diameter white oak had great horned owls fledge youngsters every other year for ten years. We've not seen any of them for some time so having the pileated pair in a white oak next door was a real joy. Maybe next year. Until then thanks for the pictures and diary.

    Time makes more converts than reason. Thomas Paine, Common Sense

    by VTCC73 on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 01:15:09 PM PST

    •  Did your pair bring their youngsters into your (5+ / 0-)

      feeders? Ours never did and we've always wondered why that was.  That must have been awesome having a family of GHO's living next door to you!

      Just give me some truth. John Lennon--- OWS------Too Big To Fail

      by burnt out on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 01:32:29 PM PST

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      •  Yes they did. (5+ / 0-)

        The Downeys always bring theirs to the feeders and the red heads sometimes do. I was surprised the pileated got as comfortable with us in the area near the feeders. They are very private and skittish. We've had one or more show up since we built the house in late '95 but never had a nesting pair until '10. The fledglings didn't come to the feeders until late '11.

        The owls were incredible. This area is well populated with many different owl species and great horned owls are plentiful. Our huge white oak is a perfect nesting site with several old holes from fallen limbs. (Limbs 20" in diameter no less!) The summer of '96 was spent clearing the back acre across the creek of vines, cat's claw and 3" diameter poison ivy, and brush along the back fence line where the big oak and several daughters live. That winter we heard owls all the time and my wife thought we had a screech owl up in that tree. She called it the tree of death for all the small animal bones she found beneath it. She never saw a pellet or we would have known we had a big owl in residence. Then one really nice early April morning I stepped out on the deck with a cup of coffee. Complete shock. On the back property line in a smallish dogwood is a 18" tall cotton ball. Squawking and struggling to hold on to branches far too small to hold his weight. Mom and dad were up in the big tree with disgusted looks.

        I got several good pictures over the next three days and the parents did't seem to mind how close I got to junior. They fed and watched over him until he flew off followed by mom when I got too close with the camera. I never saw him again but I did see the pair and their offspring every other year until 2003. We had a very bad series of spring storms that knocked down eleven trees and two huge limbs from our nearly 400 year old tree. We've not seen them since although I still see a GHO every now and then and hear them often.

        Time makes more converts than reason. Thomas Paine, Common Sense

        by VTCC73 on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 02:44:57 PM PST

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        •  Thanks for the reply. Cool story about your owls. (5+ / 0-)

          I envy you. It's interesting that they only showed up on alternate years. Do you have any ideas on why that was the case? Sorry about the loss of the big limbs on your tree. We too lost a dandy just this past summer, big giant of a tree, black oak. An old timer here says that he remembers it being a very big tree fifty years ago so I know it was very old. We are thinking maybe a hundred years or more. We left it lie where it fell and are going to watch it decompose. It's our own personal nurse log now!

          Just give me some truth. John Lennon--- OWS------Too Big To Fail

          by burnt out on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 03:28:46 PM PST

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          •  Short answer: development (3+ / 0-)

            The subdivision is on a large working farm that has been here for decades. The fence line with our giant oak that forms our eastern property line was also the boundary to a new section that was not developed until we had been here for five years. All of the land east of that fence line was old overgrown fields with sections of woods here and there. My wife, an exceptional gardener, had also left that back acre as natural as possible. It had native grasses that she let grow amongst the forty some trees we planted to replace the ones felled by the developer before we bought the lot. She said the grass would die out as the trees matured which they did. She has now planted beds of drought resistant plants, hellebores mostly, since we can't irrigate that large an area so far from the house. The creek isn't adequate to use to water plants but is a suitable resource for small animals and birds. I'm fairly sure the owls found it a suitable hunting site despite its small size.

            Development of home sites brought more cleared land, people, pets, and traffic. It is still a very quiet area but I doubt the owls see it quite like I do. I think they were content until the loss of two limbs changed the tree coupled with loss of hunting space was too much of a disruption. Or maybe old age claimed one or the other of the mates. We see lots of wildlife, large and small, but I don't think the current state of the land can support predators any longer.

            Time makes more converts than reason. Thomas Paine, Common Sense

            by VTCC73 on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 06:44:05 PM PST

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            •  I think I misunderstood you earlier when you said (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Polly Syllabic, VTCC73
              every other year until 2003
              I thought you meant that they were skipping every second year. I couldn't figure out why they would do that! Now I get it.

              My bad, I was confused.

              Just give me some truth. John Lennon--- OWS------Too Big To Fail

              by burnt out on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 06:59:08 PM PST

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              •  I was far from clear (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                burnt out, KenBee, Polly Syllabic

                and didn't actually answer you. I suspect they alternated nest sites to prevent over hunting. My only evidence is the squirrel population explosion that followed in 2004. I doubt the area around us could support a large breed owl family year round. I surely don't think that is a reasoned act but simply a matter of experience and a tree that was too good a nest site to pass up until things changed. When it did change they went elsewhere or got old and stopped breeding or died. I would love to have them back.

                Time makes more converts than reason. Thomas Paine, Common Sense

                by VTCC73 on Sun Dec 23, 2012 at 07:36:23 PM PST

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