Pileated Woodpecker, by Rosi Jansen (photo by Rosi Jansen)
- Last Updated: May 25, 2020
Since the extinction of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, the Pileated Woodpecker is now the largest woodpecker in North America. About the size of a crow (17”), Pileated woodpeckers are easy to spot with their red heads and the males also have a red mustache. They often announce their presence with a loud vocal call and can be attracted to suet feeders.
Decaying trees are an important food source for Pileated woodpeckers and you’ll know when one has been pecking at a decaying tree by the large rectangle-shaped holes this woodpecker makes. If you have the chance to watch these handsome woodpeckers at work on a tree trunk, stand back or you might get hit with large chunks of wood flying left and right. Pileated woodpeckers live in mature forests, mixed woods and also utilize other habitats where large decaying trees are present. Unless a decaying tree presents a hazard to life or property, it is best to leave these trees standing because they provide important food sources and nesting sites for woodpeckers and other birds and wildlife. Pileated woodpeckers nest in holes and begin their nesting season earlier than most songbirds.
We can help to protect birds by delaying tree trimming and major yard work until the fall when nesting is completed and young birds have fledged. Enjoy them while they’re nesting and watch the young, who always make us smile!