Mission: To promote the appreciation of wildlife and increase harmony between humanity and nature.

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Friday, June 3, 2016

Family Time

After a winter of watching and wondering, it was a pleasant surprise to find Storm and Chip consummating their relationship in early April. Storm is the female pileated woodpecker who lost her home and had to relocate twice this winter. 

The links below will bring you up-to-date, if you missed any of her winter adventures:

Storm Watch

A River Of Wood

Homeless In Seattle

The nesting process progressed in a fruitful fashion. By early May, Chip and Storm had their hands full or more precisely they had a nest full. At this point, I suspect the nestlings are around 10 days old.

The three young bird's crests are a pale pinkish-orange - strikingly different than Chip's flaming red brilliance.

There are two females and a male. The names Windy, Misty and Squall came to mind while watching them. The terms seem appropriate for the children of Storm. Fittingly, Squall is the bird on the bottom with his mouth open wide.

Although it can be hard to see, Squall has a reddish forehead, somewhat similar to Chip. Females have black foreheads and the they lack the red malar stripe which is visible on Chip's cheek.

Thirteen days later, Squall's crest is visibly brighter and the red coloring of his malar stripe is becoming obvious.

If you look closely you can see how his reddish crest comes all the way down to his beak, compared to the black, visible on his sister's forehead.

Even though the coloring of the nestlings has grown richer, there is still a subtle difference between their crests and that of their parents.

The feeding process involves at least four eyes and the sharp tips of at least two bills - more if you include the other young birds who are also striving to be fed. It sure looks like a dangerous proposition. Somehow the parents and the young all survive with their eyesight intact.

As the young prepare to leave the nest they spend more and more time looking out into the wonders of the world.

Last weekend, at approximately four weeks of age, Squall and his sisters left the nest. Please note how his claws easily grasp the bark of the big-leaf maple.

The parents still bring them food, even though the young have left the nest and learned to fly e.g. fledged. 

Chip's approach is careful and cautious...

 ...but he delivers the goods.

Afterwords, the begging continues.

The young also observe the parents and hopefully are starting to think about feeding themselves.

Squall lands near one of his sisters.

You can almost hear her say, "What do you want?"

Squall leans in, mouth open, hoping for a handout.

It appears his sister gives him a peck on the cheek, but not the food he desired. Squall left in a hurry.

Another surprising feeding attempt occurred when Chip landed in a three foot high, red huckleberry bush.

Keeping his body in virtually the same spot, he twisted and turned and picked almost all the berries off the plant. Maybe the berries were dessert - a nice compliment to his usual diet of carpenter ants.

The funnest sight of all was Squall landing on a paved walkway. The horizontal landing completely confused him. He had no idea what to do with his claws. When he lands on the vertical surface of a

tree his claws instinctively find crevices to grasp and he stops rather elegantly. On the asphalt he fluttered down, wings spread and ended up landing on his chest and belly. With a little awkward shuffling he folded his wings, pulled his feet underneath him and pushed himself up to this less embarrassing pose.

These innocent young birds clearly do not understand all the dangers they face. Last year a young pileated woodpecker, of almost exactly this age, was found on the downhill side of 24th Avenue, just below East Interlaken Blvd. Most likely it was hit by a car. Spring is a wonderful time with new life all around. It is also a good time to watch the speed of our vehicles and a great time to keep our dogs close to our sides.

Congratulations to Storm! She survived the loss of her roost(s), found a mate, laid eggs and then raised three healthy young pileated fledglings. The last eight months of her life have been very eventful. Not only did she survive, she thrived. 

Have a great day on Union Bay...where pileated woodpeckers raise young in the city!



  1. Incredible views! Thank you so much for your work, Larry.

  2. Thank you and you are welcome! :-)

  3. Thanks so much Larry, we just enjoyed the full story of Storm and family...absolutely incredible. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Brad and Lesli

    1. Thank you for letting me know you enjoyed the posts. Locally, I think pileated woodpeckers are my favorite birds.

  4. I want to tell you how much your blog means to me. I'm in the Peace Corps in Macedonia, having lovely bird-sighting experiences. I'm from Oregon, and it's just so nice to have your blog giving me a taste of birds in the Pacific Northwest. I love your posts! Thank you!

    1. Wow! Thank you for following along! I am glad to be a little help to someone who is so devoted to helping others. Thank you for all you are doing!