I had heard this male pileated and his mate chipping away across the cove from me. I had gotten distracted by a fishing osprey, when two trees away from me the thwacking got very loud. Looking up I was startled at how close the woodpecker was to me as these birds tend to be spooky around people. I got the scattering of the wood chips as the pileated drew back for another blow – so fast it blurred my next shot of him. Then his mate called out and just like that he was gone into the deeper shadows.

Red-headed Woodpecker Nest Cavity Progress
 
The male red-headed woodpecker does most of the drilling and excavating.
Because of the loss of habitat, this woodpecker has been on a steady decline and is now on the Watch List.
Our woods around Jordan Lake provide them with the pine snags needed for their nest cavities.
 
Here you can see the beginning of the cavity.
 
 
A wood chip goes flying past the woodpecker’s left shoulder.
 
 
Here is a great view of the cavity.  He will finish the cavity in the next couple of weeks and his mate will lay her eggs.
 
 
Away he goes, chasing a bug for a snack.
 

It is a rare day at the lake when I don’t hear a pileated woodpecker and its partner.
What is also rare is to actually see one of these large and secretive birds.
Then today, after seeing not one, but two, I found out that I have been repeating a myth about these birds:
I had thought the cartoon character Woody the Woodpecker was modeled on a pileated woodpecker.
Alas, I was wrong.  The real bird was an acorn woodpecker.  

pileated woodpecker