Once you have seen the Pileated Woodpecker in the wild, watched it climb
trees and fly through the forest you will always be able to identify it. I
know of no other bird that size and with that silhouette. As far as
woodpeckers go, this is the largest North American woodpecker there is. Like
other woodpeckers, its excavating plays a crucial role in many forest
ecosystems in North America. A diverse array of other animals use its
cavities for shelter and nesting.
Pileated Woodpeckers excavate large
nests in the cavities of dead trees. Females lay approximately 1–6 white
eggs. Incubation is approximately 15-18 days. The chicks are born naked and
helpless. They fledge in about 26-28 days
Their call is a loud
cuk-cuk-cuk-cuk. It is very similar to the Northern Flicker.
Identification: The Pileated Woodpecker Adults are 16” to 19” long
with a wingspan of 26” to 30” and weigh 8 to 12 oz. They are almost crow
sized. It is best recognized by its large, dull black body, red crest on the
head and a white line down the sides of the throat. The males have a red
line from the bill to the throat, in adult females these are black. In
flight the wings show pale bases to primaries on upper-wing and entirely
white under-wing covert.
Habitat: Pileated Woodpeckers inhabit deciduous and
coniferous forests with mature stands of trees. They can be found in
suburban areas and farmland with stands of trees. I live in a small Upstate
New York town. The pictures are of a bird that was on a neighbor’s maple
tree digging for ants and grubs.
Woodpecker’s territory ranges from eastern North America to the Gulf coast,
the Great Lakes, the boreal forests of Canada, and parts of the Pacific
Migration: Pileated Woodpeckers are year
round residents of their territories.
Pileated Woodpeckers eat insects, carpenter ants, wood-boring beetle larvae
and to a lesser extent fruits, and nuts. They often chip out large and
roughly rectangular holes in trees while searching out insects.
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