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Pileated Woodpecker Facts

Sujata Iyer
Want to know more about the pileated woodpecker? The facts in this story will serve the purpose.
There are some of us who enjoy a vacation sitting in front of the television or curling into bed with a good book to read while sipping some hot chocolate. And there are some of us who like to be adventurous and explore as much of this beautiful planet as we can in our free time.
If you're a wildlife enthusiast and enjoy exploring the different facets that make this earth as beautiful as it is, then we have a treat for you. Especially if you enjoy bird watching.
In this story, we will share some interesting facts about the pileated woodpecker. They will definitely help you understand this bird better and make it easy for you to spot it as well.


  • Among the types of woodpeckers in North America, the pileated woodpecker is the largest one to be found.
  • It is roughly almost as big as a crow and measures up to 20 inches in height.
  • The whole body of this woodpecker is black, except for its head. This is what makes it very easily distinguishable.
  • The side of the head has a peculiar color scheme of white and black stripes, which resembles the pattern of stripes seen on a zebra.
  • The crest is bright red in color.
  • The beak is as big as its head and very strong.
  • The underside of the wings is white.
  • In adult pileated woodpeckers, females have black foreheads while males have white foreheads.


  • This type of woodpecker is found mostly in North America.
  • They prefer pine forests in the regions between Washington and California.
  • They are also found in some other parts of the United States and also in Canada.
  • Though they like to live in older trees, due to deforestation in recent years, the forest cover has reduced considerably and these birds have adapted to other trees.
  • They mark their territory within the forest by poking on the trees with their bills.

Eating Habits

  • Pileated woodpeckers are omnivorous birds.
  • They like to feed on insects that inhabit the trees.
  • They do not prefer any specific type of trees. They just look for trees which have an ample supply of tiny insects like ants, beetles, worms, etc.
  • They also like to feed on the larvae of these insects. They search for the food by drilling tiny holes into the bark with their bills.
  • After they find the insects, they drag and pull out the insect with their tongue.
  • The holes that they make are mostly rectangular in shape.
  • The hole can sometimes become very large and can also result in the tree falling down.

Mating Habits

  • The pileated woodpeckers use their drumming bills not only for extracting the insects, but also as a call for mating. This sound is very loud and can be heard up to a great distance.
  • One of the interesting facts about these birds is that they mate for life.
  • During mating season, they use the drumming sounds to attract the member of the opposite gender and after they mate, the pair lives together in a nest for around a year.
  • The female stays in the nest while the male looks for food and also defends the area around the nest.
  • The males are fiercely protective and territorial about their trees and their nest.
  • At night, the male keeps the eggs warm.
  • After the eggs hatch, the young birds live with the parents in the nest until they develop into fledglings and fly away.
  • The eggs which fall off the nest are moved to another location by the pileated woodpecker. This is a habit that is seen only in these birds.
These were some interesting facts that are sure to have increased your knowledge about these gorgeous birds. So keep all this in mind when you go birdwatching again.