Unusual avian visitor in Virden

This lovely pileated woodpecker was spotted in central Virden on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019, working her way along a wooden fence apparently looking for something to eat. 

The pileated is the largest of the woodpeckers, up to 18" for males, the females being slightly smaller. You can tell this one is a female because it's lacking the bold red facial stripe of the male. 

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They prefer woodlands, especially where there's old, dead trees where they hammer out roosting hollows. But some have developed a taste for seeds and suet and will visit birdfeeders which may be what enticed this one into Virden. 

They're insect eaters mainly, and do us a big favour by eating carpenter ants, mosquitoes, flies and beetles. 

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology says: 

The pileated woodpecker is an essential and irreplaceable part of its ecosystem, and it is very important to maintain the habitat it requires. Dead wood resources must be conserved and new cavity trees must be produced so that this species is able to continue excavating nest holes, and so in turn provide habitats for other species.

© Virden Empire-Advance

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