Starling messed with a pileated woodpecker, bad idea!!

Blake Iverson coopershwk at
Sat Mar 16 19:40:53 PST 2002

Here's a message posted to the purple martin forum that I read everyday.
Really cool.

Arlington, WA

This morning I witnessed a once in a lifetime bird watching event.

I was off work today and decided to go for my daily exercise walk in the
woods behind my home early this morning. I ate a bowl of cereal,called to my
golden lab dog "Lady" and set out down the trail. I check my bluebird houses
as I go and always have my 10 by 50 Nikon binoculars with me. Today was a
great day. I saw a Cooper's Hawk,a Phoebe,and a Pine Warbler. As I entered
the woods I proceeded slowly.

I have been watching a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers excavating a new nesting
cavity 30 feet up in a dead sycamore tree for a week now. If I sit real
still and far enough away the female Pileated will continue her work. I was
watching her throwing out hunks of dead wood with my binoculars when it
happened!! Along came a starling with some grass in his\her beak. The stupid
idiot saw the cavity and headed straight for it. No way I thought. Surely to
the Lord A starling will not try and take over the nest of a Pileated
Woodpecker!!! I quickly raised my binoculars back to the cavity. The
starling landed and started in!! The female Pileated was inside the cavity!!
The starling only got in about halfway when
WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!! The female Pileated nailed this starling
right in the head with a powerful blow that knocked him two feet backwards
out of the entrance hole!!!!! The starling fluttered for a second and then
fell to the ground where he did not move. Both the male and female
woodpeckers followed him down until he hit the ground and they were making a
lot of racket.

I waited for five minutes and the starling still did not move. I could not
stand it anymore so I walked over to the starling and he was barely alive.
He had blood coming out of the left side of his head just behind his eye!!!
I went on and finished him off. I have been watching birds for a lot of
years now but this has got to be the coolest thing I have ever witnessed.
That female Pileated hit that Starling so hard that she killed him!! It is
too bad that the Red-headed Woodpecker is not as bad as the mighty Pileated.
Pileated Woodpeckers probably don't have many starlings bother them. They
usually nest in the deep woods where starlings are seldom found. The pair in
my woods though are nesting near the edge of the woods in a small clearing.
There is a pair of Red-Heads starting to nest on the other side of the
clearing in a dead maple. The starling was probably thought he was going to
take over the Red-head's cavity. What a rude awakening this scum-bird had!!!

I have killed a lot of starlings since I moved here two years ago. I think
that I will be successful with the Red-Heads this year. I now know of three
different pairs behind my home. The pair nesting near the Pileated
Woodpeckers sure have a lot of protection. I have a lot of respect for this
wonderful King of the Forest!! I can't imagine what it must of been like to
see an Ivory-billed Woodpecker. I wish I could train this female Pileated to
visit my martin colony from time to time and do starling raids. Man this was
cool to witness. She has made my day!!!!!!!!!!

Maybe I could get that female Pileated to perch on the holding cage of my
S&S Controller and jab away!! Miss Starling Executionist!!!!!!!!!!!


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