Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Kingdom
Phylum
Class
Order
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Dryocopus pileatus
Population size
1.9 mln
Life Span
9-13 yrs
WEIGHT
250-400 g
LENGTH
40-49 cm
WINGSPAN
66-75 cm

Pileated woodpeckers are large, mostly black woodpeckers native to North America. They have a red crest and 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 undulates in the way characteristic of woodpeckers. Adult males have a red line from the bill to the throat, in adult females these are black.

Di

Diurnal

Ca

Carnivore

In

Insectivores

Ar

Arboreal

Al

Altricial

Te

Terrestrial

Ov

Oviparous

Mo

Monogamy

So

Social

No

Not a migrant

P

starts with

Distribution

Geography

Continents
Biogeographical realms

Pileated woodpeckers are found across Canada, the eastern United States, and parts of the Pacific Coast. These birds favor mature forests and heavily wooded parks. They specifically prefer habitats with large, mature hardwood trees, often being found in large tracts of forest. However, they also inhabit smaller woodlots as long as they have a scattering of tall trees and prefer to nest in areas, close to streams.

Pileated Woodpecker habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Pileated woodpeckers are social and often live in groups. The mated pair stays together on its territory all year round and is not migratory. They defend the territory in all seasons but tolerate floaters during the winter. When clashing with conspecifics, Pileated woodpeckers engage in much chasing, calling, striking with the wings, and jabbing with the bill. Drumming is most commonly to proclaim a territory, and hollow trees are often used to make the most resonant sound possible. Pileated woodpeckers are active during the day and roost in the cavity at night. Most of their day is spent foraging in dead trees, stumps, or logs. They often chip out large and roughly rectangular holes in trees while searching out insects, especially ant colonies. They also lap up ants by reaching with their long tongues into crevices. Pileated woodpeckers may also forage on or near the ground, especially around fallen, dead trees, which can contain a variety of insect life. They may forage around the sides of human homes or even cars, and can occasionally be attracted to suet-type feeders. Although they are less likely feeder visitors than smaller woodpeckers, Pileateds may regularly be attracted to them in areas experiencing harsh winter conditions.

Group name
Seasonal behavior
Bird's call

Diet and Nutrition

Pileated woodpeckers are carnivores (insectivores) and mainly eat insects, especially carpenter ants and wood-boring beetle larvae. They will also supplement their diet with fruits, nuts, and berries, including poison ivy berries.

Mating Habits

MATING BEHAVIOR
INCUBATION PERIOD
12-16 days
INDEPENDENT AGE
3-4 months
BABY NAME
chick
BABY CARRYING
3-5 eggs

Pileated woodpeckers are monogamous and form strong pair bonds. Usually, these birds excavate their large nests in the cavities of dead trees and have multiple entrance holes. The nest cavity is unlined except for wood chips. In April, the hole made by the male attracts a female for mating and raising their young. Once the brood is raised, the birds abandon the hole and do not use it the next year. Pileated woodpeckers may also nest in boxes about 4.6 m (15 ft) off the ground. Both parents incubate 3 to 5 eggs for 12 to 16 days. The chicks hatch altricial (helpless) and may take a month to fledge. They usually remain with parents for 2-3 months more before they learn to forage on their own.

Population

Population threats

Pileated woodpeckers are widespread and have a large population size. However, they often suffer from collisions with auto traffic and illegal hunting.

Population number

According to the All About Birds resource the total breeding population size of the Pileated woodpecker is 1.9 million birds. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are increasing.

Ecological niche

Pileated woodpeckers play important roles in their ecosystem. They help to control many insect populations, especially tree beetles; however, some people may consider these birds harmful if found on their property due to the considerable damage that Pileated woodpeckers can do to trees and homes. Abandoned nest cavities made by Pileates provide good homes in future years for many forest songbirds and a wide variety of other animals. Owls and tree-nesting ducks may largely rely on holes made by Pileateds in which to lay their nests. Even mammals such as raccoons may use them. Other woodpeckers and smaller birds such as wrens may be attracted to pileated holes to feed on the insects found in them. Ecologically, the entire Pileated woodpecker family is important to the well being of many other bird species.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • The Pileated woodpecker is the largest common woodpecker in the U.S.
  • The name 'Pileated' refers to the bird's prominent red crest, from the Latin 'pileatus' meaning 'capped'.
  • The drumming of Pileated woodpeckers consists of a burst of 11 to 30 taps delivered in less than a second.
  • Pileated woodpeckers are adapted to climb on vertical surfaces, but when on the ground they will move by hopping.
  • Pileated woodpeckers make such large nest cavities in dead trees that these holes can cause a small tree to break in half.

References

1. Pileated Woodpecker on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pileated_woodpecker
2. Pileated Woodpecker on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/22681363/92903232
3. Xeno-canto bird call - https://xeno-canto.org/703903

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