This pair of Pileated were excavating a cavity in a riparian environment. The snag was about 40 feet high. Shortly after the main photo was taken, the male left the cavity. The female then ascended the tree and inspected the inside. She went into the cavity and quickly poked her head back out, as if to say, “Get back in here, there’s more work to be done!”

It is fun to anthropomorphize, but actually both male and female participate in nest excavation each year, though males tend to do most of the work. It may take up to six weeks to complete the process. Like Hairy and Downy, they create up to 4 cavities – one for the nest, one for female to roost in at night, up to two others for alternate sites to avoid predation and for the young to roost in when they are ready.

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