Dryocopus Pileatus – Pileated Woodpecker

Dryocopus Pileatus - Pileated Woodpecker in the United States

Dryocopus pileatus, commonly called the pileated woodpecker is a large woodpecker that is predominantly black in color and is native to North America. An insectivore, it can be found in deciduous forests throughout eastern North America, the Great Lakes region of Canada, the boreal forests of the United States, and portions of the Pacific Coast. It is the largest woodpecker species that belong to the family of Picidae that still exists in the United States.

Quick Overview: Dryocopus Pileatus – Pileated Woodpecker
Body size: Around 16.5-19.5 in (42-50 cm) and a weight of 309 g (10.9 oz)
Main colors: White, Red, Black
Range: Coastal and the Eastern United States
Migratory Bird: No
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: All Year (January – December)
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Pileated woodpecker Description

The Pileated Woodpecker is North America’s largest woodpecker. White wing linings and black bodies distinguish this large woodpecker from others. White face, neck, and mustache stripes. Red crest and cap. The Female has a black cap and mustache stripe.

Dryocopus Pileatus - Pileated Woodpecker in the United States
Flying Dryocopus Pileatus – Pileated Woodpecker. Photo by: David A Mitchell


These birds have a length of 16.5-19.5 in (42-50 cm) and a weight of 309 g (10.9 oz). Their wings could range from 27-30 in (69-76 cm).


Carpenter ants and woodboring beetle larvae are the favorite foods of this woodpecker. It rips wood to reveal ant galleries. That long, pointed tongue with barbs and sticky saliva helps the Pileated Woodpecker catch and remove ants.


A fir forest Nests in mesic areas near streams, choosing stands with the largest basal area, stem density, and crown canopy are the most common habitats of these species. Roost in hollow trees with several entrances as well.


Primarily for vertical climbing; occasionally hops on the ground. Strange on small branches and vines. Strong flyer with a slightly undulating flight; flight is slow but direct. Night roosts in the cavity. During the battle, it chases, calls, flies, and jabs with its bill. In early spring, when courtship activities begin, drumming usually occurs atop a dead tree that resonates sound. Drumming is used to claim land.

Dryocopus pileatus Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Piciformes
  • Family: Picidae
  • Genus: Dryocopus
  • Species: Dryocopus pileatus


Two subspecies are recognized namely: D. p. abieticola commonly known as northern pileated woodpecker found in southern Canada south through the western, north-central, and northeastern United States. D. p. pileatus known as southern pileated woodpecker found in the southeastern United States.

Best time of the year to see

In the United States, the best time of year to see these birds is all year round, regardless of the season. This refers to any month of the year between January and December.

Distribution of the Pileated woodpecker in the USA

From Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, southern Quebec, and central Ontario south to southern Florida, and west to forested river bottoms in eastern Texas and southern Oklahoma. The winter range is identical. It is a permanent resident of deciduous and coniferous forests in southern Canada and the United States.

The Pileated woodpecker can be found in the following states in the United States – Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Dryocopus Pileatus – Pileated Woodpecker

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