Bird Sighting: Pileated Woodpecker

Bird watching is one of our families favorite hobbies. Be it backyard birds, raptors or otherwise, we just enjoy it. Watching off our backdeck the day after Christmas I noticed a bird just beyond our property. I couldn’t identify it, as it was quite far, but as soon as Jeremy saw it he knew.

It was a Pileated Woodpecker.

Think Woody Woodpecker, only the real version. It was appeared to be male, judging by it’s bright colors and peak of white that appears to be showing under his wing. He gave me a headache just watching him continue to rap his head and beak against the tree. He was hard at work taking all of the bark off the tree in one solid line. The bare part of the tree visible in this picture was actually about 8 feet long. If you look at the bottom right of the tree he is perched in you can just barely see another light brown line along the curve of the tree. He also had taken that bark off in a large rectangular shape.


DSC_0019Pileated Woodpeckers are the largest of the Woodpecker family. They are black with stripes of white and a bright-red crest, very Crow-like in size. They typically eat carpenter ants found by making holes in dead trees, but will also eat nuts and berries.


A big, dashing bird with a flaming crest, the largest woodpecker in North America (except the Ivory-bill, which is almost certainly extinct). Excavating deep into rotten wood to get at the nests of carpenter ants, the Pileated leaves characteristic rectangular holes in dead trees. This species became rare in eastern North America with clearing of forests in centuries past, but has gradually increased in numbers again since about the beginning of the 20th century. Where unmolested, it even lives in parks and woodlots around the edges of large cities.

Listen to the Pileated Woodpecker’s call, watch a video and learn about it’s history at All About Birds.

Gorgeous isn’t he?


“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” Job 12:7-10

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