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Pileated Woodpecker


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The Pileated Woodpecker is one of the biggest, most striking forest birds on the continent. It’s nearly the size of a crow, black with bold white stripes down the neck and a flaming-red crest. Look (and listen) for Pileated Woodpeckers whacking at dead trees and fallen logs in search of their main prey, carpenter ants, leaving unique rectangular holes in the wood. The nest holes these birds make offer crucial shelter to many species including swifts, owls, ducks, bats, and pine martens.

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Backyard Tips

If you have dead or dying trees or snags on your property, consider leaving them alone as they may attract Pileated Woodpeckers (as well as other woodpeckers, nuthatches, etc.) to forage, roost or even nest in them. Pileated Woodpeckers sometimes visit backyard bird feeders, especially for suet.

Find This Bird

Look for Pileated Woodpeckers in stands of mature forest with plenty of dead trees and downed logs—deep excavations into rotten wood are telltale signs of this species. Also listen for this bird's deep, loud drumming and shrill, whinnying calls. Pileated Woodpeckers occur at all heights in the forest, and are often seen foraging on logs and near the bases of trees.

Get Involved

Keep track of the Pileated Woodpecker at your feeder with Project FeederWatch

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Here's an incredible up-close video of a Pileated Woodpecker coming to a suet feeder. Just don't turn your sound up too loud, as this bird makes quite an entrance.