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pileated woodpecker nesting material!

  • 04 Mar 2024 4:21 PM
    Message # 13324664

    I copied this article from the Mount Pisgah newsletter. Another bird that uses lichens for nesting materila!

    In the spring of 2022, a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers (Dryocopus pileatus) built a nest in a Douglas-fir killed by drought just above the Jette Trail. The pair successfully fledged young, and the family spent time around the Arboretum through the summer.

    We discovered that the January ice storm felled the tree they had nested in, providing a unique opportunity to view inside the nest. The entrance to the nest is a bit over three inches in diameter and starts at the base of a knot (maybe a weak point?). The cavity extends 18 inches deep and is wide, with all but a two inch ring of exterior wood excavated. The interior wood is soft, showing signs of decay. A number of mushrooms of Porodaedalea pini grow along the trunk, and this common forest pathogen likely contributed to the death of the tree. Interestingly, the bedding material in the nest consisted of a large amount of pendulous old man's beard lichens (Usnea spp.). These lichens may possess some anti-microbial properties.

  • 05 Mar 2024 3:15 AM
    Reply # 13324795 on 13324664

    That’s cool! I remember there being a lot of Ramalina menziesii at Mt. Pisgah that looked like Usnea or Alectoria until you got up close to it — at least in the area where the mushroom festival is held. I wonder who wrote the article and if it was really Usnea or if it was the locally abundant R. menziesii. Maybe there’s more Usnea elsewhere on Mt. Pisgah? They might have been growing together and I just don’t remember, but I was surprised because I wasn’t used to seeing so much R. menziesii and it seemed to be the dominant hanging lichen.

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