This winter I've been seeing Pileated Woodpeckers in places where I haven't usually seen them over the five years I've lived in this house.
But before I start talking about the Pileateds, I just wanted to mention a large flock of Carolina Chickadees I encountered along the IU cross country course this morning. There were at least 20-25 chickadees in this flock. They all were chasing each other agitatedly. This is the largest tightly knit flock of chickadees I have ever seen. Cool!!
I'm lucky enough to live a half mile from 2.5+ square miles of largely uninhabited wooded hills. The habitat there is really good for Pileated Woodpeckers. When I go deep into these woods it's not at all unusual to see/hear Pileateds. But this past fall and this winter I've consistently seen Pileateds in less-than-optimal habitats:
* I've had Pileateds at my suburban feeders numerous times this winter.
* On at least three occasions I've had to chase away Pileateds hammering the siding of my house, presumably looking for carpenter bee nests. This is an interesting experience in itself. When a Pileated starts hammering on your siding it sounds like some sort of maniac is trying to hack through your wall with a ball-peen hammer. :-)
* Pileateds have become quite common in hedgerows and small patches of pole-sized timber along the south edge of the IU cross country course.
* Just in the past few days I've seen several really out-of-place Pileateds. One was flying over the Best Buy on 3rd Street. Another was flying over the College Mall parking lot. And just this morning I watched a pair of Pileateds leisurely working their way through the Bell Trace retirement community.