Pileated Woodpecker is a member of the Picidae family in
the avian order of Piciformes.
All other living species of woodpecker are also members of
Picidae. The Pileated Woodpecker's scientific name is
Dryocopus pileatus, which means "crested
Pileated Woodpecker is an exceptionally large
woodpecker. An adult is usually more than 40 cm
long and about 400 grams in weight. In the field,
its size alone usually gives it away. Another key
field mark are the striking white wing bars that flash
in flight. At rest, both sexes display a prominent
red crest on top of the heads. In addition, the adult
male has a red line from the bill to the throat.
An adult female has the same line, but it is black.
Photo: M. Noonan
Pileated Woodpecker resides in old coniferous or
deciduous forests found in southern Canada and western,
midwestern and eastern United States. Because the
Pileated Woodpecker is so large, it needs larger trees
for nests and to forage on. Its principal foods are beetle larvae
and carpenter ants, which it vigorously excavates from
standing dead tree trunks (snags). It is also
known to eat berries and nuts.
Pileated Woodpecker is territorial, and is usually a
year-round resident. It characteristically calls
in flight, emitting a staccato-like "laugh". It uses
it's heavy, thick bill to excavate fist-sized holes in
trees in the pursuit of its insect prey. It's
location is usually easy to detect because of the loud
hammering sound it makes as it digs. Mating
is almost always in monogamous pair bonds. The
birds use their bills to excavate melon-sized cavities
in large trees. The female will lay 3-5 eggs
and both sexes will incubate the eggs for 15-18 days.
When the young hatch, they are immobile, blind and
helpless. Both parents will care for them for 26-28 days
Photo: M. Noonan
Pileated Woodpeckers are
found in healthy forests, year round in Allegany State
Park, Letchworth State Park, Spraguebrook County Park as
well as Iroquois NWR.