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Pileated Woodpecker Dryocopus pileatus


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Pileated Woodpecker, male
credit:  Nol Lee/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Picidae, Woodpeckers view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE Has mainly black body plumage, except for small white patch at base of primaries on closed wing. In flight, patch is more obvious, and white underwing coverts are striking. Angular-looking head has white throat and white stripes behind eye and extending from base of bill down side of neck. Tufted crown is red; note red malar stripe and pale eye. ADULT FEMALE Similar, but only rear of crown is red and malar stripe is black. JUVENILE Resembles respective sex adult, but has brownish eyes.

Dimensions Length: 17" (43 cm)

Habitat Fairly common forest resident. Does best in undisturbed, old-growth forest, but tolerates younger woodland if a few large trees are present for nesting.

Observation Tips Easy to find in suitable habitats.

Range Texas, Eastern Canada, Plains, Florida, Alaska, Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, Northwest, Western Canada, New England, California, Great Lakes, Rocky Mountains

Voice Utters a harsh, agitated ke-ke-ki-ki-ki.

Discussion North America's largest woodpecker. Unmistakable with its mainly black plumage and white and red head markings. Bill is large, pale, and chisel-like. Feeds mainly on carpenter ants and beetle larvae excavated from timber via typically rectangular holes. Drumming is loud and carries far. Sexes are separable.