Can you see it?
You'll usually hear them before you see them. By following the knocking sounds that will direct you to the general direction of where they can be found; the bright red head makes them easier to spot.
My house is located on a heavily wooded property, mostly mature Douglas Firs, Madrones, Scrub Oaks, Birch, Sugar Pines, Ponderosa Pines, as well as several very old, huge Oak trees..
Of the old oaks, the huge, gnarly one pictured above definitely has the most 'character' of all the oaks on the property. Like the others it is home and food host to squirrels, birds, bees, other insects, lizards as well as various lichens and mossy growths.
There is evidence that it has survived strikes by lightning many years ago. That it (or at least 80 percent of it) leafs out faithfully each spring in spite of its condition, providing welcome shade all summer makes me love it all the more.
Families of Pileated Woodpeckers inhabit the property as well, raising their young and hunting for ants and such in the trunks of the old oaks and in the old fallen trees on the forest floor.
Pileated Woodpeckers are the largest of woodpeckers; approximately the size of crows; about 16 to 19-inches long, with a wingspan of about 26 to 30 inches. They are quite a sight to see, swooping and gliding nimbly among the tight clusters of trees, in spite of their size. Their bright red heads standing out vibrantly against the usually subtle colors of the forest backdrop. They don't migrate, but stay in their territory all year long. It's not often they are right out in the open around here, as they are skiddish, usually hidden among other trees in the woods. I was happy to have the chance to snap these shots, many times the camera isn't close at hand.
See how long, and strong the beak is?
I've inserted an arrow in the photo so you can see where the beak actually ends.
No matter what is going on in the world, I always take pause when I catch a glimpse of them going about the business of survival and feel fortunate to share the space with them.