Small wonder. The size of the chips he's hewing out is impressive.
And it would appear that he is expecting high water this spring, and has set about to craft out a dug-out canoe.
We are getting used to the cars that are slowing down for a closer look.
It is not great news for the tree. Lovely cedar that it is, this indicates that the tree is in big trouble. Woodpeckers don't pound their way into the bark just on speculation -- they only go in looking for insects and grubs that are living inside the tree. Which indicates that there is internal rot going on.
Which indicates that we are going to at some point lose this tree. And we'll miss it, for it's beauty and the shade it brings.
Still, the chance to not only hear the pounding of the woodpecker, but to catch glimpses of him as he goes about his work plan, that is something.
Hiking through the trails, there is lots of evidence that the pileated woodpeckers are doing quite well, thank you very much. Several big snags are in the process of being carved out.
There is a lot of interesting science around the woodpecker. How can this bird slam its head repeatedly into hard wood and not fall off the tree with a concussion?
They are so well adapted to the task. With beaks that are so hard they rival iron, thick spongy skull bones and a rather small brain that floats in cerebral fluids rather than being encased in fluid, they are well set-up to transfer the shock of striking the tree away from the brain. In fact, woodpecker skulls get studied by the fine folks who build better helmets for you and I.
The woodpecker has a secret weapon, however. They possess very long tongues -- a necessary tool, since when you start knocking on the door, the insects in the wood don't come to open it up. Rather, they hightail it deeper into the tree, and the woodpecker has to fish them out with his long, sticky tongue. And it is Long. Some woodpeckers have tongues that are three times as long as their beaks. They are sticky, with a barb on the end much like a fish hook, to help out. That tongue, however, is too long to fit comfortably in the narrow neck of a woodpecker. What to do?
The birds solve the problem very neatly -- while adding an extra layer of shock absorption to their head banging activities.
The tongue actually wraps over the top of the bird's skull, fastening into the eye socket. Which means that if a woodpecker has something on his mind, it is probably his tongue...
And we want to thank our cousin Robin Tapley, of Tapley Nature Trails, for the photo capture of one of the architects of this forest construction.