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Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker
Dryocopus pileatus
(Order: Piciformes, Family: Picidae)

Diagnosis: The largest species of woodpecker in North America, the Pileated Woodpecker is an almost completely black bird, with two white facial stripes and a distinctive red tuft. The wingspan averages 70 cm, and adults weigh 250-350 g. The beak is black, and males have a red line extending from the throat to the bill. The underside of the wings shows white during flight.

Natural History: Male woodpeckers dig a whole in a dead tree to attract females beginning in April. The cavity is only lined with woodchips. Females lay 1-6 eggs and both male and female incubate for around 15 days. Nestlings are born without feathers and may take up to a month to fledge. Nesting cavities are not used the following season; this provides habitat for other various species.

Distribution: Only migrate locally, found in north, east and southeast United States. Also in Canada.


Habitat: Wooded areas, only nest in large trees.

Diet:  Insectivores, mainly carpenter ants, but also consume wood boring beetles and fruits and nuts.  


Conservation status: IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern





Flickr Images:



Peterson, Roger Tory. 2010. Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Eastern and Central North American 6th Edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. pp 210-211, fig 288.


Image Credits:

©David and/or Joanne Kelch: WrenWorks Wildlife and Nature Photography

“Northlight”: WunderPhotos

Edward Mattis: Pileated woodpecker over Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, National Geographic: Near Passerine Pictures

Traveling Man 2009: Pileated Woodpecker Harpers Ferry, WV, Flickr:


Submitted by:  Andrew Spellmeyer, July, 2011.

Wichita State University
Generated on 2011. This website is continuously updated.
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