A male Piliated Woodpecker having a meal - Photo by Ron Payne

While searching for birds during the Dec. 18 Middlebury Christmas Bird Count on N. Bingham Rd. in Cornwall, I came upon a Piliated Woodpecker feeding from the remains of a Bald-faced Hornet nest attached to the bottom of a power transformer. What exactly he was getting out of the nest is a bit of a mystery since all but newly fertilized Bald-faced Hornet queens die off in the fall, and the queens abandon the nest to over winter elsewhere. Perhaps there were some failed larvae still left inside or the nest had become shelter for some other insects, but whatever it was the Piliated was after, he was making a good meal out of them, repeatedly craning his neck to reach for more.

– Ron Payne