Tails From The Zoo

(Woody) The Pileated Woodpecker April 17, 2010

Filed under: Birds,Zoo Animals,Zoo Knew — Scott Gray @ 8:54 pm
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Chris Reid and I talked about the pileated woodpecker last Sunday on Zoo Knew (Sundays at 7:15 am on CJOB AM)

  • The pileated woodpecker, made famous by inspiring the cartoon character Woody the Woodpecker, is Canada’s largest and North America’s second largest woodpecker species.
  • Pileated woodpeckers range is length from 40 – 50 cm (16 to 19.5 in), with a wing length of 68 – 76 cm.
  • Pileated woodpeckers are mostly black when at rest but show a burst white underwings when in flight.
  • The sexes are similar in appearance, although the males have a larger red crest and a red moustache.


  • The pileated woodpecker is an uncommon species, found in coniferous, mixed and hardwood forests. It prefers dense, mature forest but has begun to frequent woodlots in the past couple of decades.
  • Pileated woodpeckers excavate characteristically oval holes in trees to find ants and other wood-boring insects (and their larvae). They will also eat berries and nuts.


  • The pileated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) is related to other Manitoba woodpecker species like the more common yellow-bellied sapsucker, the downy woodpecker, the hairy woodpecker, the red-headed woodpecker and the northern flicker.


For more on some of the wonderful birds that can be seen (wild) at the Assiniboine Park, please visit: http://www.assiniboinepark.ca/index.php?option=com_birds&task=birds&Itemid=12

To hear this woodpecker’s call, please visit: http://www.assiniboinepark.ca/media/birds/P/Pileated%20Woodpecker.mp3


Compiled by Scott Gray with references from Peterson Field Guides (Eastern Birds), Manitoba Birds (Andy Bezener & Ken De Smet), and The Field Guide to the Birds of North America (National Geographic Society).


Assiniboine Park is a Birder’s Paradise June 20, 2009

Filed under: Biodiversity,Birds,Uncategorized — Scott Gray @ 3:53 pm
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Waxwings outside the Tropical House in December

If you’ve spent any time in the Assiniboine Park or Assiniboine Forest before, you know that birds are some of the most prolific of park users. But it’s only when you begin to compile a list of all the types of birds that can be found in the park that you realize that you’ve stepped into a birding paradise. I love to see the seasonal migrations of songbirds including a dizzying array of warblers, watch the crows put up with the harassment by the blackbirds, hear the rat-tat-tat of the pileated woodpeckers, watch the burst of colour of the American goldfinch, the aerodynamic insect catching of the cliff swallows, and partake in the quiet companionship of the seemingly ever present flycatchers.

For a full list of the species that have been recorded seasonally or year round in the park since 1945, along with pictures and sound bites, please visit: http://www.assiniboinepark.ca/index.php/component/content/section/1?category=1. This list was compiled by three of Manitoba’s top birders and is a wonderful new resource for nature enthusiasts and teachers.