About The Pileated Woodpecker

Easily recognizable by its size and distinctive coloring, the Pileated Woodpecker measures in at 40-49 cm (16-19 in), with a wingspan of 66-75 cm (26-30 in) and a weight of 250-350 grams. The Pileated Woodpecker is nearly as large as a crow. It has a mostly black body with a large red crest on the head. It has some white stripes on its body, running from the face down to the neck. Its wings are also mostly black with some white linings. Its throat has some white as well.

The Pileated Woodpecker has a thick silver-gray bill which it uses to make rectangular holes in trees. Its eyes are yellow while its legs and feet are grayish black. Male and female birds are similar in appearance. The male however, has some red stripes in the face while the female has none. Juvenile birds differ from the adults in that the have brown eyes and shorter crests.

Pileated Woodpecker Nesting Preferences

Pileated Woodpeckers nest in cavities in trees. They prefer to excavate new nest holes each year in a dead tree or branch. Digging up a nest hole can take up to six weeks.

The nest of the Pileated Woodpecker is basically the cavity they have created. Except for some woodchips, the nest remains unlined. These woodchips come from the dead tree or branch they made the hole in.

Building a Birdhouse For The Pileated Woodpecker

The Baltimore Bird Club recommends the following dimensions for a Pileated Woodpecker birdhouse. The floor area should be 8” x 8” while the height of the birdhouse should be around 16-24 inches. The entrance hole should be 3-4 inches in diameter. It should be places around 12-20 inches from the floor. The whole birdhouse should be place from 15-25 feet above the ground, preferably in a large tree as this is what Pileated Woodpeckers prefer.

The Pileated Woodpecker Mating Habits

Pileated Woodpeckers mate for life. A pair stays together throughout the whole year. They are territorial and tend to stay in their established territory for long periods of time. During breeding season, the Pileated Woodpecker fiercely defends its territory. However, during the winter, it can tolerate a few “floaters” – birds who just pass by.

The Pileated Woodpecker Feeding Preferences

The fare of Pileated Woodpeckers consists mainly of insects. They eat ants and beetle larvae. However, they also eat fruits and nuts. To find their food, they make holes in trees and logs. They also strip off the bark to expose the ants underneath.

Interesting Pileated Woodpecker Facts

  • The Pileated Woodpecker is the largest Woodpecker in North America.
  • The roost of a Pileated Woodpecker usually has multiple entrance holes.
  • The sound that a Pileated Woodpecker makes when boring a hole in a tree is so loud that it can be heard over long distances.
  • Pileated Woodpeckers make very large holes in dead trees that sometimes the holes can cause a small tree to break in half!
  • Pileated Woodpeckers have been observed to move their eggs which have fallen off the nest to another site. This is a rare habit with other birds.