Pileated Woodpeckers are not that common in SE Pennsylvania and had at one time been listed as an endangered or threatened species. Although their numbers have increased and the population is listed as “stable,” in 19 years we have only taken in 2 or 3. Prior to this case, each was horribly injured and did not survive more than an hour. Being able to actually release one of these magnificent birds was an exciting moment for me!
This pileated arrived after a window crash in Macungie, Lehigh County. The family that found it went out of their way to save it, following our instructions exactly. Its recovery is a testament to the careful and immediate actions of those who found it. On arrival, it was not aware and its head was “streaming” (going in circles). It had no fight at all. After a short stay of quiet care and meds, it completely recovered.
We are often asked to return and release a bird back where it was found. In most cases it is best not to put the bird through another car ride for release. The stress can be too much for the bird, reducing its chances post-release. As you can see by the attitude of this woodpecker in the video, it was loudly proclaiming its desire to be set free. Its high-strung personality would not have tolerated an hour car ride to the release location. It will find its way home and probably flew back faster than it could have been driven.
I have always released woodpeckers onto a tree truck. From there they usually climb, hunt a few insects and get their bearings before flying away. Not this one! She bounced right off the tree and headed home.