Insects and other foods the trout
should be eating:
1. BWOs (Little and baetis BWOs)
Most available/ Other types of food:
3. Sculpin, Minnows (Streamers)
Our New Friends - Pleated (Giant Red Headed) Woodpeckers
This has little to do with fly fishing Great Smoky Mountains National Park except that when doing so, you just
may see one of these beautiful birds. That's a good enough reason for me to write about them. During the
last few months, Angie has called me five or six times from our downstairs living room screaming about Giant
Red Headed Woodpeckers. By the time I stumble downstairs from my office, she has either opened the door
and spooked them, Biddie has barked at them and scared them away, or they have flown away for some
I did get a glimpse of two birds flying though our front yard not long ago that I was fairly certain were Giant
Red Headed Woodpeckers. Even so, I have accused her of everything from seeing things that don't exist, to
calling regular red headed wood peckers "Giant" red headed wood peckers. Yesterday, she didn't scare
them off and I got to see the most beautiful birds I have ever laid my eyes on. They were about forty feet
away from our bedroom windows. I couldn't believe it. They were busy as could be, jumping and flying around
as if they were very nervous, but intent on pecking something on the tree with their two inch long bills.
According to Angie, the birds always land in the same oak tree and appear to be eating something from it.
She has said each time she has spotted them that there were two birds. Yesterday, there were three birds in
the tree at the same time. All three looked exactly alike. The birds are at least 16 inches in height. I have no
idea of the wing span but they obviously have a large wing span.
That particular tree has a vine growing up it that I have not been able to identify. We have avoided touching it
for fear our human scent would scare the birds off. One bird hung upside down, on a small limb not over a
half inch in diameter and pecked at something on the limb. That was a sight to behold. I couldn't believe the
big bird was hanging on such a small, shaking limb, upside down, pecking at it. It has the vine on it.
Everyone that reads this may think it's funny that we are so excited about seeing these birds. All I can say is I
am very excited about it and that I will assure you I intend get some video and pictures of them. I was so
excited yesterday, I completely forgot to get a camera. Angie just freaks out over seeing the birds. It seems
so unreal to see such large, beautiful birds so close to the house. The tree is about twenty-five feet from our
front porch and very visible from our bedroom and living room windows. Yesterday, I kept thinking they would
fly off any second but they were there for about three minutes or longer. I am almost positive that it is the
vine, or maybe something on the vine, that interest them.
I did a lot of research on the birds yesterday. They are actually a Pileated Woodpecker. Here is the scientific
Copyright 2012 James Marsh
According to what I read, these birds
average about 17 inches in height. They
love carpenter ants and the trees in our
yard have mega numbers of them.
I also read that they will adapt to bird
houses if built right. They should be over
two feet in height, at least 6 inches square
with a minimum 4 inch diameter hole near
the top of the house. It should be filled with
wood chips and mounted on the south or
east side of a tree at least 20 feet off the
ground. If you don't hear from me again,
you will know I fell off my ladder.
I intend to start construction tomorrow. We
have plenty of wild turkeys that show up
across the street, plenty of bears and other
animals and birds that come around, but
these are the most incredible looking birds
I have ever seen.
The photos were swiped from the WWW,
not taken of our birds. The upper right
image is of a male. I'm not sure about the
sex of the lower one.