Pileated woodpeckers: winter excavators

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The Outside Story

by Meghan McCarthy McPhaul

Whenever I spy a pileated woodpecker traversing the sky, I pause to watch its weird undulating flight.  The jerky rise-and-drop movement of this large woodpecker is endearingly gawky — like a mini pterodactyl visiting from the Cretaceous period.  This time of year, the bird’s bold crimson crest flashes in stark contrast to the mostly-muted colors of winter.

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