Common inhabitants of the northern forests, the Pileated Woodpeckers are an amazing sight with their zebra-striped heads and necks, long bills, and distinctive red crests.
This pair decided to nest in a dying birch tree with other trees in the area having an ample supply of carpenter ants which are their favorite snack. They forage for the ants by digging large, rectangular holes in trees. These holes are often so large that they weaken smaller trees or even cause them to break in half. Smaller birds often follow the woodpeckers grabbing up the left over ants.
The pair alternates feeding the babies every 45 minutes throughout the day. They make sure each chick gets its share of the meal by shoving the ants and larvae down their wide open beaks. After each feeding the adult bird enters the hole and quickly exits with a pellet of excrement from the active babies, thereby keeping the nest clean and free from disease. Not very tasty, but, an effective way to change diapers.
This particular nest was discovered when a observant park ranger sighted the nest when construction crews were clearing a bike path through Gooseberry State Park. The construction crew saved the tree from the chipper until the babies leave the nest.
Just like in life, these birds were nearly destroyed when circumstances beyond their control came along that would have killed the babies. Had it not been for the mercy of the people in charge, the babies would now be mulch. Of course the birds had no idea they were in danger, yet somehow I think the hand of God was in all of this, so that a new pair of beautiful birds could give Him glory as they live out their lives in the northern woods.
Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy! I look to You for protection. I will hide beneath the shadow of Your wings until the danger passes by. Psa 57:1