This sighting is one of my favorite bird sightings to date. I was hiking a steep mountainside in the Kaniksu National Forest today, searching for big ungulates (moose, elk, deer) and whatever else I might find. I was fully aware that these large woodpeckers inhabited the area, but I never thought I would come across one.
I was watching a cow moose walking along the ridge ahead of me and heard the distinct knocking of a woodpecker. I carefully approached and after several minutes of sneaking, stopping, listening and repeating, I finally saw the large bird at the top of an old snag (dead tree). I moved into position and took some photos. They turned out ok...good enough for me when the bird decided it had had enough to eat out that hole.
I continued on my difficult and steep hike when I saw the bird fly into view and land on another snag ahead of me. I snuck into position and once again photographed the bird, this time being much more successful in the quality of the photos.
The Pileated Woodpecker is a very large North American woodpecker, roughly crow-sized, inhabiting deciduous forests in eastern North America, the Great Lakes, the boreal forests of Canada, and parts of the Pacific coast. It is also the largest woodpecker in the United States, excepting the possibly extinct Ivory-billed Woodpecker.