The Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) is a large woodpecker native to North America. This crow-sized bird normally inhabits deciduous forests in eastern North America, the Great Lakes, the boreal forests of Canada, and parts of the Pacific coast. It is the second-largest woodpecker in the United States, after the critically endangered and possibly extinct Ivory-billed Woodpecker. The term “pileated” refers to the bird’s prominent red crest, with the term from the Latin pileatus meaning “capped” [Wikipedia]
They are mainly black with a red crest and have a white line down the sides of the throat. They show white on the wings in flight. The flight of these birds is strong and direct but has an undulating quality, similar to the relatively unique flight-style of all woodpeckers. Adult males have a red line from the bill to the throat, in adult females these are black.
Look (and listen) for Pileated Woodpeckers whacking at dead trees and fallen logs in search of their main prey, carpenter ants, leaving unique rectangular holes in the wood. The nest holes these birds make offer crucial shelter to many species including swifts, owls, ducks, bats, and pine martens. [All About Birds]
Pileated Woodpecker Facts [All About Birds]
- The Pileated Woodpecker digs characteristically rectangular holes in trees to find ants. These excavations can be so broad and deep that they can cause small trees to break in half.
- The Pileated Woodpecker prefers large trees for nesting. In young forests, it will use any large trees remaining from before the forest was cut. Because these trees are larger than the rest of the forest, they present a lightning hazard to the nesting birds.
- A Pileated Woodpecker pair stays together on its territory all year round. It will defend the territory in all seasons but will tolerate new arrivals during the winter.
- The oldest known Pileated Woodpecker was a male, and at least 12 years, 11 months old when he was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Maryland.