Pileated Woodpecker is a member of the Picid 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.
Pileated Woodpecker prefers older forests with many
large trees. 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.
is almost always in monogamous pair bonds. The
birds use their bills to excavate melon-sized cavities
in large trees. They usually lay only one
clutch of four eggs each spring. Both parents take
turns brooding the eggs and feeding their hatchlings.
Where to see
them in WNY
good place to find Pileated Woodpeckers is on the
Swallow Hollow Trail at the Iroquois National Wildlife
Refuge. From the parking lot, take the trail
heading to the left. When you reach the earthen
dike, look among the standing dead trees in the flooded
area on your left.