Pileated Woodpecker

Dryocopus pileatus

Pileated Woodpeckers sleep (roost) and nest in cavities (holes) of live pine trees. Cavities are built only in large, old pines. The birds peck the bark around the entrance to get the sap (resin) flowing around the hole. The sticky sap keeps predators like snakes away from the nest cavity.

The male bird is from 16-19" from tail to head (crow-sized) and has a flaming red crest. The female has a blackish forehead, and lacks the red mustache below the eyes.

The Pileated Woodpecker is no longer on the endangered species list.

Still Reason for Concern: Pileated Woodpeckers may still have problems because the open forests with big, old pine trees have been replaced by forests with younger, smaller pines. Also, periodic natural fires which historically kept the pinewoods open have been suppressed since settlement. Periodic fire is needed to control the brushy understory and keep the pinewoods open. Controlled burns are the main reason this bird has become more widespread and removed from the listing of endangered.

Size: up to 49 cm (19.5 in) long

Diet: Insects found under the bark and along the branches of pine trees

Habitat (where it lives): Open pine forests with large, widely-spaced older trees

Reproduction: 2 to 4 eggs

Interesting Facts: A woodpecker group roosts and nests in a cluster of 1 to 30 cavity trees. Most clusters have some cavities under construction, some completed and in use, and some abandoned.

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