Reclusive wilderness woodpeckers are colonizing Ottawa

By Tom Spears, Ottawa Citizen, April 15, 2019

Our region’s biggest woodpecker is a tough, crow-sized bird that sends wood chips flying as it carves gaping holes in tree trunks. Yet it was always afraid of people.

Ottawa naturalist Dan Brunton remembers finding one 80 kilometres north of the capital some 50 years ago. It was noteworthy enough to make the newspaper’s bird column.

Pioneer naturalist Elkanah Billings wrote of seeing “a flock of seven or eight in the unsurveyed lands between Ottawa and Georgian Bay” (probably present-day Algonquin Park) in 1852 as an exceptional occurrence. In 1923 it was still described as “a rare resident in the immediate vicinity of the city (Ottawa).” People shot them.

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