Pileated Woodpecker – ID Sheet

Common Name: Pileated Woodpecker

Scientific Name: Dryocopus pileatus

Other Names:


  • Large Woodpecker with a mostly black body (About the size of a crow)
  • White wing linings
  • Head has a prominent red crest and cap
  • White face and neck stripes
  • Red moustache stripe and gray bill (male)
  • Black moustache stripe and cap (female)


  • Found in mature forests and border from British Columbia to Nova Scotia and south into California and east to Florida
  • Not found in desert southwest, Rocky Mountains, and the plains

Feeding and Breeding:

  • Eats insects such as ants and wood boring beetle larva. Will also eat seeds, fruit and suet.
  • Uses it long, barbed tongue with sticky saliva to extract ants from trees
  • Nests are usually in large dead trees.
  • The male begins the nest excavation
  • The nest may be 10-24 inches in depth and can take 3-6 weeks to build
  • A monogamous bird that lays 3-8 white eggs

Calls and Sounds:

Interesting Information:

  • The oldest known Pileated Woodpecker was a male, and at least 12 years, 11 months old when he was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Maryland. (Source: All About Birds)

Observation Notes:

  • December 2020-Northern Vermont- I heard the distinct call of the Pileated Woodpecker while out for a walk with the dogs. It was a silent afternoon, just shortly after a snowstorm ended, we had stopped a bend in the trail when the Pileated Woodpecker called out for what seemed like 45 seconds.
  • December 2020- Need to get pictures of the many Pileated Woodpecker holes in the trees. These holes are a very distinct size and shape and often low to the ground.



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