This morning we heard the loud “jungle bird” call of the Pileated Woodpecker, and it sounded close. Sure enough the bird was way up near the top of a tall pine in the neighbor’s yard pecking out a meal from under the bark; their favorites are carpenter ants and wood boring beetles.
They are the largest woodpecker in the U.S. and are very striking with their bright red crest. Even though it’s not a migratory species, they are protected under the U.S. Migratory Bird Act. A Pileated Woodpecker pair stays together in their territory all year round. About three months ago, we observed a pair calling back and forth and moving from tree to tree. Great news for us since we believe they are nesting somewhere in the neighborhood.
While Pileateds are really forest birds, they can be seen in heavily wooded areas and backyards. They may forage around the sides of homes and can occasionally be attracted to suet-type feeders. Although they are less likely feeder visitors than smaller woodpeckers, Pileateds may regularly be attracted to them during harsh winter conditions.
Usually, Pileated Woodpeckers excavate their large nests in the cavities of dead trees, often building multiple entrance holes. Other woodpeckers and smaller birds such as wrens may be attracted to Pileated holes to feed on the insects found in them. This bird is very good at opening up new neighborhoods for other cavity dwellers. In fact, the entire woodpecker family is important to the well being of many other bird species. Consider inviting these gorgeous birds into your own neighborhood by leaving a snag in your yard.