When I was a kid, I loved to go hiking, and even though I wouldn't call myself a birder then, I still loved to see interesting birds. Because my dad is a birder, I actually learned the call of a Pileated Woodpecker long before I ever saw one. I still remember vividly my first time seeing one in person. Our family was camping at Bull Run Park in Virginia; I remember telling my parents I was going to go find a Pileated Woodpecker. And sure enough, as I was walking, maybe 30 min. later, one flew right by me, landed on a tree trunk for a second, and flew off. I was mesmerized. Since I announced I was going to find one ahead of time, it took a while before I convinced my family I actually saw one. Now seeing a Pileated Woodpecker is commonplace for me. I see them very frequently here in Florida. But something about seeing one brings up those childhood memories.
Pileated Woodpecker, Orlando Wetlands Park
Pileated Woodpeckers are the largest woodpecker in the United States (with the exception of the possibly extinct Ivory-Billed), and they are easily identified. They are large and mostly black except for grey-white stripes on the face and a red crest on the top of their head. In Central Florida, I see them frequently at Mead Gardens, Merritt Island, and Orlando Wetlands Park. In Maryland, I've seen them many times in the Patapsco State Park.