As you walk through this area, look closely at trees along the trail. You may notice large holes in some trees that look like rectangles with rounded corners. These distinctive holes are created by pileated woodpeckers searching for a snack! Woodpeckers are named for their habit of pecking at tree bark in search of the insects they eat for food. Pileated woodpeckers have an incredibly long tongue with a barbed and sticky tip. They insert their tongue into ant-created tunnels in the wood and trap their prey!
Pileated woodpeckers’ bodies have adapted to withstand the constant stress of banging their beaks against a tree. Their heads have evolved in ways that prevent their brain from being injured by the slamming of their head. Their beaks are sharp to pierce the thick bark of trees. You can tell how old a pileated woodpecker is by how worn down its beak is! Older pileated woodpeckers have a more rounded beak tip, while younger ones have a sharp tip.
You can also find owls, hawks, songbirds, and other flying friends on the preserve. The key to seeing birds is standing quietly in one spot for a minute or two, listening for calls, and looking for motion in the trees. Where do you see and hear the most birds? On the ground or in the treetops? You can learn a lot about birds by paying attention to where you see them and watching them go about their business.