Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Pileated Woodpeckers

I recently (in February) completed a painting for Oregon's Conservation Stamp program-- this was the first year they've run this competition! There were a lot of species to choose from and I had a great time working on one of my favorite birds, the Pileated Woodpecker. These fantastic and large woodpeckers are in decline in some parts of the USA due to the loss of their prime habitat, and in particular the removal of dead wood... which is often viewed only as a liability, eyesore, or fire hazard. Dead wood is hardly dead though-- it is teeming with organisms, from insect life to amphibians, many bird species rely on dead wood for both a food source and nesting cavities; not to mention the plethora of plant life that dwells on dead wood!

To create a painting as accurate in all aspects as possible, I spent a few weeks just researching every species of moss, lichen, fern, and so forth that I would include in my painting. I was fortunate enough to visit Oregon in 2011 and collected a few photos of moss and lichens, though I had no idea that they would be so useful later on!

This painting shows a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers working over a dead western hemlock snag, searching for delicious wiggling tidbits to eat. Pileated Woodpeckers create nesting cavities that many, many other species depend on to raise their young, and greatly aid in the decomposition of fallen wood, accelerating its break down to create a rich loam at the forest floor.

I'm honored to say that this painting came in second place in the competition!

Forest's Benefaction - Pileated Woodpeckers, 16" x 20", Acrylic on board


  1. Beautiful painting and great description!

  2. Congratulations on the placement! I really love the detail on that dead tree; it is fantastic.