|Male pileated on the suet feeder this morning.|
When it comes to the feeding hierarchy among my dooryard birds, the humongous pileated woodpecker is like the 500-pound gorilla looking to select a seat in the living room. Where does he sit? Anywhere he wants! So it goes with this yellow-eyed, chisel-beaked, feathered pterodactyl. When does he get a turn at the suet block? Anytime he wishes!
Flickers, starlings, red-bellied woodpeckers—everyone gives way when Mister Big comes to dine. Frankly, I don't blame 'em. A woodpecker the size of a crow is scary, especially when you see what can only be described as a malevolent, and slightly deranged glint in those lizzardy-looking eyes. Don't let the feathers fool ya…this is one potentially mean customer! One whack from that broadsword beak and you'd have a wound requiring stitching. Don't think so? Just watch the chips fly when a pileated goes to work on a tree. He might as well be wielding an axe.
Birds may have bird brains, but they not so dumb as to challenge Mister Big. Even the feisty Carolina wren, a regular David-vs-Goliath at the feeders, knows when to exercise discretion over valor. However, the little wren has also learned that when a pileated feeds, ample crumbs follow. That was the case this morning. The pileated flapped in, momentarily landed on the nearby tree before transferring to the suet feeder, and once in place, settled in for a messy breakfast. Crumbs showered onto the snow below—where the little wren waited, happy to eat away and let Mister Big do the serving.