Pileated Woodpecker

Species Profile: Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker, Dryocopus pileatus

Learn more about this species in the Peterson Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North America.

Introduction to the species

“The roll of the Pileated woodpecker is one of the most impressive sounds in nature, and among the noblest of spring, being most frequently heard on still, humid mornings when the air seems hungering to transmit sound; the earth is vaporing, mellowing, ripening for the plow. The glad strain of the meadow-lark bursts everywhere from the ground, and the cackle of the flicker comes from sunny places. All the woodpecker tribe love to beat the tom-tom in such weather, but the stately roll of Hylotomus easily lords it over all. It is then as the gavel of the speaker calling the Whole House of Nature to order after the defection and chaos of winter.”
-Vickers 1914

King-o’-the-Woods, Stump Breaker, Grand Pic—all are nicknames for the sixth-largest woodpecker on Earth. The Pileated Woodpecker is truly the reigning monarch of mature woods from the southern Yukon Territory to California’s Kings Canyon, and from Nova Scotia to the Florida Keys. With territories spanning a mile (1.6 km) or more for a single pair, Pileated Woodpeckers are far more frequently heard than seen, but their obsessive quest for carpenter ants leaves conspicuous signs of their carpentry. The nesting Pileated also excavates virtual caverns in the trunks of large trees, leaving behind sheltered abodes for many cavity-nesting waterfowl and predatory mammals such as fisher and marten.

Videos of Woodpeckers

Pileated Woodpecker taking a dust bath. Florida. Filmed by Steve Shunk


Gallery of photos of the Pileated Woodpecker by Steve Shunk

Return to List of Species of North American Woodpeckers page.

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