Meet: Pileated Woodpecker


This iconic although fairly rarely sighted woodpecker is a native and year round resident of the northern forests. These woodpeckers are not particularly rare but they do require large stands of tall trees and standing dead trees to thrive so they are not often seen in urban or suburban areas.


When you think of Woody the Woodpecker, you're thinking of a Pileated Woodpecker. With a bright red cap on it's head, this bird is easily spotted moving up and down trees in the forest. It is seeking insects to eat and favors carpenter ants. When you see large chunks of trees removed and lots of woodchips below the hole, that's likely the work of this impressively large bird. You might even see this fella on or near the ground seeking out ants and insects to eat. They are sometimes seen at suet feeders as well, especially in the winter.


With a wingspan of 2-3 feet, it is the largest woodpecker you will see in the north woods. It has a distinctive call, a repetitive shriek that moves up and down in scale and volume. It also flies in that looping up down pattern woodpeckers are famous for. These woodpeckers and so many other woodland critters really need dead standing trees not only for food but for nesting sites. A Pileated woodpecker pounds out a cavity nesting site in a dead tree that it uses for only one year. Other critters (owls, wood ducks, raccoons, pine martens) use the cavities after the Woodpecker.



If you see on of these birds, you won't soon forget it. They are striking in coloring, large, and very impressive. Look up, listen for the their very unique call or their loud pounding on tree trunks and branches in the forest to locate them.


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