Western Pileated Woodpecker

Dryocopus pileatus picinus

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This crow-sized woodpecker is distinguished by its impressive plumage which includes an all-black body with white linings on the underside of the wings. The black face is broken by thin white stripes which run up the neck toward the thick bill. Both sexes have a bright red crest running along the top of the head. Males have a red mustache while the female’s is black.

Using its chisel-like bill, the bird will chip out rectangular-shaped holes in tree trunks while searching for carpenter ants, termites, caterpillars, cockroaches and flies. Although insects are the staple of its diet, the woodpecker will also feed on berries and nuts. The male will cut cavities in dead trees to be used as nests. The pair will stay together all year, tenaciously guarding their nests from other birds and predators. The female will produce a clutch of three to five eggs which hatch within eighteen days.

Adults can grow up to 19 inches long (49 cm) and weigh up to 11 ounces (311 g), making them the largest woodpeckers in North America.

Habitat and Range

The woodpecker can be found in deciduous forests throughout most of the Pacific Northwest from British Columbia to northern California. Frequently they are also spotted in urban wooded parks.

Conservation Status

Common. Currently, the woodpecker’s population is healthy, although their numbers have fluctuated as their habitat has declined or expanded.