Pileated Woodpecker — Wild Amelia’s “Critter Of The Year” 2024

The 15th Annual Wild Amelia Nature Festival is happening in May 2024. The “Critter of the Year,” is the Pileated Woodpecker, learn more . . .

May 2024’s Wild Amelia Nature Festival

May is an ideal month to learn more about northeast Florida’s flora, fauna, and eco system. Here on Amelia Island it’s time for an annual celebration of nature and the bioregion around the Florida-Georgia border. Local residents and visitors alike have the opportunity to experience an array of outdoor activities happening on various days during Festival week through May 18, 2024.

According to Cornell Lab’s All About Birds, “Pileated Woodpeckers use their long neck to pull far back from the tree, then make powerful strikes with their heavy bill, pulling with their feet to increase the strength of the blow.” 

In the video above, this male Pileated Woodpecker is on the same snag that’s also pictured below.  This dead tree has been thoroughly foraged for insects by not only Pileated Woodpeckers, but Red-bellied Woodpeckers, as well. Red-bellied Woodpeckers methodically drilled out a deep cavity in this same snag (the effort was ongoing for a few months), and then successfully nested last spring).

Amelia Island "snag," a dead tree left standing for the birds. (Photo by AmeliaIslandLiving.com)
Amelia Island “snag,” a dead tree left standing for the birds. (Photo by AmeliaIslandLiving.com)

Utilizing its heavy bill, the largest holes were excavated on this snag by Pileated Woodpeckers, the chips and chunks of dead wood flying out and dropping to ground. 

Leave snags (i.e. dead trees) for the birds -- a deep hole excavated by Pileated Woodpecker, Amelia Island, FL.
Leave snags (i.e. dead trees) for the birds. Deep hole excavated by Pileated Woodpecker, Amelia Island, FL.
Dead Wood Is Good For Birds

All About Birds further indicates that “It’s important to maintain elements [standing dead trees and fallen logs], both for the insect food they provide and for the many species of birds and mammals that use tree cavities.” This one dead tree on Amelia Island also attracts other year-round bird species such as Carolina Chickadees and Eastern Bluebirds and has been a resting perch for watchful Red-shouldered Hawks and occasional Barred Owls at night. 

“Wild Nite Nature Presentations”

“Wild Nites” are an evening lecture series presented by experts in their field, a program of the Wild Amelia Nature Festival. “Wild Nites” are held on Amelia Island once a month on the second Tuesday from September through May each year at the Peck Center, 516 South 10th Street, Fernandina Beach, FL, 32034.

Learn More About Pileated Woodpeckers

The last “Wild Nite” of the 2023-2024 season features Wild Amelia’s  “Critter of the Year,” the Pileated Woodpecker. If you’d like to learn more in person, the May 2024 “Wild Nite” presentation is scheduled for Tuesday evening, May 14th at 7 p.m. at Fernandina’s Peck Center. The guest speaker is from the Duval Audubon Society.

More About Wild Amelia Nature Festival

Free activities during the Festival include several nature walks on various topics held at Egans Greenway. Another Festival tradition is a rehabbed sea turtle release at Fernandina’s Main Beach Park, this year scheduled for Wed., May 15th at 10 a.m.(but get there early). The Festival’s main event is the free-admission Eco-Expo at Main Beach Park happening this year on May 18th, 2024, further described below. Note that other vendors that offer nature tours such as kayaking require purchase and reservations.

Eco-Expo At Main Beach – May 18, 2024 (10 AM – 4 PM)

Wild Amelia Nature Festival’s 2024 Eco-Expo is being held at Fernandina’s Main Beach Park on Saturday, May 18, 2024. This year’s Eco-Expo is being coordinated with another special event, Nassau County’s “Opening of the Beaches” Bicentennial Celebration. (Also see related article about the “Opening of the Beaches” celebration, including live music, food trucks, kids zone and more). Read “Summer Kickoff, Nassau’s Opening of the Beaches Bicentennial Event.”

The Wild Amelia Nature Festival has become a program of Keep Nassau Beautiful, a local non-profit creating public awareness, educational opportunities, programs and promotions to “foster a personal appreciation of, pride in, and responsibility for the natural beauty of Nassau County.” Donate and/or learn more about Keep Nassau Beautiful, including volunteering and other events throughout the year.