PILEATED WOODPECKER(Dryocopus pileatus)
DESCRIPTION: The Pileated Woodpecker is mostly black, with a red crest and two white stripes on each side of the face extending from the bill down to the shoulders. The male also has a red stripe on the cheek. Part of the under wing is white and very visible in flight. The bill and legs are dark grey. It is a fairly large woodpecker, at around 45 cm (18 inches) long.
VOICE: https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Dryocopus-pileatus – One of the calls of the pileated woodpecker is quite similar to that of the Northern Flicker.
NAME: The English name ‘Pileated’ (and Latin ‘pileatus’) means ‘capped’, referring to the bird’s crest. The Latin genus name ‘Dryocopus’ means ‘tree’ and ‘dagger’.
HABITAT: Mature forests with decaying trees.
DIET: Carpenter ants, wood-boring beetles, some berries.
NESTING: The nest is a deep cavity in a tree. It has more than one entrance, and is used only once. Will also use nest boxes. Two to seven white eggs are laid, incubated mainly by male. Chicks fed by both parents.
DISTRIBUTION: Breeds in most of Canada to the tree line except the Prairies and Newfoundland, and in the eastern half and along the west coast of the USA.
ON PEI: Year-round resident on Prince Edward Island, but rare.
CONSERVATION: Numbers appear stable, not currently at risk. What helps this woodpecker is by keeping standing dead trees and old logs on the forest floor.
NOTES: Pileated woodpeckers bore rectangular holes in trees (with the larger side vertical), which can be quite large. By not using their nest more than once, it provides ‘homes’ for many other species of birds or squirrels.
As for many other woodpeckers, the pileated woodpecker has two forward and two backward toes, which allows better grip when climbing vertically on tree trunks. In addition, their tail feathers have stiff ends to provide more support.
Drumming: How can a bird sustain such ‘head-banging’ without having brain damage? There is a study trying to answer that question. Researchers found that a woodpecker can peck millions of times in their lifetime without any apparent brain damage. Yet, the acceleration force (Gs) of their pecking is in the 1,300 range. Compare this with a force of only 80 Gs sustained by a human, which will result in a brain concussion!
REFERENCES: https://www.borealbirds.org/bird/pileated-woodpecker
https://www.mba-aom.ca/jsp/toc.jsp (Maritimes Breeding Bird Atlas)
http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/pileatedwoodpecker.htm (New Hampshire PBS)
https://www.ealt.ca/species-spotlight-list/pileated-woodpecker (Edmonton and Area Land Trust)
https://nature.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/pileated-woodpecker (Missouri Department of Conservation)

Pileated Woodpecker - New Zealand area, PEI - July 12, 2017
Pileated Woodpecker – New Zealand area, PEI – July 12, 2017 – Brett MacKinnon
Pileated Woodpecker - May 10, 2014 - © Kathy McCormack
Pileated Woodpecker – May 10, 2014 – © Kathy McCormack