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Range Expansion of the Pileated Woodpecker in North Dakota

Evidence of Nesting


Three nests have been documented in North Dakota, two along the Red River in Fargo and one along the Turtle River in Turtle River State Park, Grand Forks County. However, the pileated woodpecker is a secretive bird whose nest is not easily found. In 1973, J. F. Cassel, K. L. Lago, and M. B. Wyatt reported a nest cavity that contained two young (Stewart 1975; G. E. Nielsen, North Dakota Birding Society, Fargo, North Dakota, pers. comm.). In 1998, T. Hallett reported a pileated woodpecker nest cavity containing an unspecified number of young; this sighting was not confirmed but was deemed likely by experienced birdwatchers (G. E. Nielsen, pers. comm.). A probable North Dakota breeding event was documented in 1990 by R. H. O'Connor, again in Fargo (R. H. O'Connor, North Dakota Birding Society, Fargo, North Dakota, pers. comm.). One immature bird was being fed by adult pileated woodpeckers on the North Dakota side of the Red River. However, it was possible that the immature bird fledged from the Minnesota side of the Red River. In 2001, D. O. Lambeth reported that one male and one female bird fledged from a nest cavity in Turtle River State Park (D. O. Lambeth, pers. comm.). Another probable breeding event occurred in 2001 in Central Park, downtown Grand Forks (D. O. Lambeth, pers. comm.). A family group was seen, and the adult male fed a fledged young. Although nests have not been found in the Turtle Mountains, Devils Lake area, or the Sheyenne National Grassland, experienced birdwatchers suggest that breeding populations do exist in these areas (G. B. Berkey and R. E. Martin, pers. comm.).

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