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Pileated Woodpecker - Dryocopus pileatus

Downy Woodpecker


 Kingdom: Animalia
 Phylum: Chordata
 Class: Aves
 Order: Piciformes
 Family: Picidae 
 Genus: Dryocopus

ICUN Redlist - World Status: Least ConcernLeast Concern


Pileated WoodpeckerThe pileated woodpecker is about 15 inches in length and is one of the largest woodpeckers found in North America. Only the Imperial woodpecker of western Mexico is larger. The now extinct Ivory-billed woodpecker which was once found in the southeastern United States and Cuba was also larger.

Pileated WoodpeckerThe pileated woodpecker has a black body, a red crest, white stripes on its neck, and black and white stripes on its face. It has bristly yellow feathers over its nostrils that keep out wood chips. It has a long, sticky tongue; a long, sharp pointed bill; and yellow eyes. Males and females are similar, but males have a red forehead, and females have a gray to yellowish-brown forehead.


mapThe pileated woodpecker is found in Canada from British Columbia east to Nova Scotia. It is found in most areas of the eastern United States and in the western United States from Washington south to California and east to Idaho and Montana. The pileated woodpecker is found in forests throughout New Hampshire.


The pileated woodpecker lives in coniferous and deciduous forests.


Pileated WoodpeckerThe pileated woodpecker eats insects, fruits, and nuts. A large part of its diet is made up of carpenter ants and beetle larvae. It uses its sharp bill to pull bark off trees to expose ant colonies. It uses its long, sticky tongue to poke into holes and drag out the ants. It also digs out large rectangular holes in trees to create roosting and nesting spots and to expose insects!

Life Cycle

Pileated WoodpeckerThe pileated woodpecker makes its nest in a tree cavity. The female lays four eggs. Both parents incubate the eggs during the day and the male incubates the eggs at night. The chicks hatch after a little more than two weeks and fledge when they are about a month old.


Pileated WoodpeckerAlthough the pileated woodpecker is adapted to clinging to the sides of trees, it is a strong flyer and it sometimes hops around on the ground. The pileated woodpecker "drums" on hollow trees with its bill to claim territory.

You can pronounce pileated two ways, with a short I-sound (pill-ee-ated) or a long I-sound (pi-lee-ated).

Audio Credit: xeno-canto.org Mike Nelson cc logo