May 14, 2014

The Ultimate Headbanger

The birdwatching season has begun!  Here in Lake Louise, we're still waiting for the snow to melt, so there's not much around, but at last weekend's community bird walk on the edge of the town of Banff, the keen participants spotted more than 60 species of birds.

On Saturday, our friend Reno Sommerhalder, who is a naturalist with a special interest in bears, took this great shot of a pileated woodpecker excavating a nest cavity in a trembling aspen tree.  The pileated is North America's biggest and toughest woodpecker, and if you look closely at the photo, you can see it spitting out wood chips.  That is one hard-headed bird!

Pileated woodpecker.  Photo by Reno Sommerhalder.

Woodpeckers like the pileated play a crucial role in forests, because their old nest cavities become prime real estate for dozens of other animals, from owls to bats to flying squirrels.

If you want to join in on the Banff Community Birdwalk, there are trips on Saturdays and Mondays through into June, usually starting at 8:00 a.m.  Contact if you want more information.