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Pileated Woodpecker

Male and Female Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

The pileated woodpecker is the largest woodpecker in North America. The term pileated comes from the Latin word pileatus meaning “capped”  which refers to the red crest on the top of the birds head.

Characteristics of the Pileated Woodpecker

• Adults are 16 – 19 inches long.
• They have a wingspan of 26-30 inches.
• Mainly a black bird with red crest and a white line running down throat.
• Large bill
• Whack-a-wack-a-wack call

Male vs Female

There are a few distinct differences between the male and female pileated.

Male Pileated Woodpecker

Male – The adult male (above) has a red line from the bill to the throat which I like to call the males mustache and also a red line from the top of the bill to the crest.

Female – Adult females only have a red crest (head).

Female Pileated Woodpecker


The birds like mature forests and heavily wooded parks. They specifically prefer large, mature hardwood trees with plenty of down and rotten trees.  

What They Eat

Carpenter ants and beetle larvae – The pileated woodpeckers mainly eat insects, they love carpenter ants and wood-boring beetle larvae. They feed on insect larvae from inside tree and under the bark by using their long tongues to get into the crevices.

Fruits, nuts, berries – They forage fruits, nuts, and berries in the wild.  Will occasionally come to feeder for black oil sunflower seed, hulled sunflower seed, peanuts and a variety of berries if using a large platform feeder or feeder attached to a tree.

Suet – They will come to feeders for suet. They prefer the suet holders to be firmly attached to a tree and not swinging in the wind.

Damage They Can Do

Pileated woodpeckers often chip out large and roughly rectangular holes in trees while searching out ant colonies.

The holes they create can also be oval in size and 4 to 8 inch deep going up and down the trucks of trees.

The woodpeckers have been known to be some trouble for homeowners on homes, garages and of course, their trees.

Pileated Woodpecker

Test your skills – Is this a male or a female?

Attracting Mate

That loud drumming sound they make happens for a reason.

That loud noise is the bird’s way of claiming its territory and attracts a mate. In April, the hole made by the male attracts a female for mating and raising their young.


• Pileated woodpeckers raise their young every year in a hole in a tree. Both the male and female have equal parenting duties.

• The female pileated woodpecker lays 3-5 eggs on a bed of wood chips that line the nesting cavity in a tree in May or June.

• The roost of a pileated woodpecker usually has multiple entrance holes.


Raising Young

After the eggs have hatched both parents sharing feeding duties and the young woodpeckers will stay with the parents until late September.


Raising Young

The female lays 3-5 eggs. Both parents incubate the eggs 12 to 16 days. The young stay in the nest for about a month.

Now you have the tools needed to tell the male from the female pileated woodpecker apart and additional facts to lure the largest woodpeckers into your yard.

ANSWER FROM ABOVE- It was a female.


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