• Skip to Content
  • Skip to Main Navigation
  • Skip to Local Navigation
  • Skip to Search
  • Skip to Sitemap
  • Skip to Footer
Help develop a Bird ID tool!

Pileated Woodpecker

Dryocopus pileatus ORDER: PICIFORMES FAMILY: PICIDAE

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.

Drink Birds & Beans coffee. Save our birds.
Yard Map Attract More Birds

Sorry No Videos for this Species... be sure to check back!

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.

Consider putting up a nest box to attract a breeding pair. Make sure you put it up well before breeding season. Attach a guard to keep predators from raiding eggs and young. Find out more about nest boxes on our Attract Birds pages. You'll find plans for building a nest box of the appropriate size on our All About Birdhouses site.

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

You Might Also Like

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.