Sunday, March 18, 2012

Pileated Woodpecker

Dryocopus pileatus
The Pileated Woodpecker is a large Woodpecker, the largest in North America in fact. It also has a pretty substantial range that covers the forested, non-mountainous areas of the continent.

You can identify the Pileated Woodpecker by its black body, red cap, and white bar that runs down the throat. The only difference between males and females is a red stripe that runs from the beak to the throat in males. They are similar in look to two other Woodpeckers that we have talked about here, the Ivory-Billed and Imperial, but those species have slightly different ranges, and are also extremely rare, if not extinct. The Pileated Woodpecker on the other hand, is very common.

You can tell that a Pileated Woodpecker is in your area by their loud call and by the pattern that they leave behind in dead trees. Insects like ants and beetle larvae make up big chunks of their diet, and in order to get to these meals they drill large rectangular patterns in the wood. Sometimes these holes are so deep that they cause small trees to break completely in half! Often times though, the tree is left very much intact, and the holes that they dig become nesting sites for other bird species.

When it comes to their own nesting, the male Woodpecker will excavate a large cavity, usually in a dead tree. He will use this nest site to attract a mate, and together they will raise 3-5 young each season. Pairs often remain monogamous for life, but the nest sites are rarely used more than once. Once again, these cavities are used by other birds for their own mating habits.

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : North America
Size : Body Length up to 19in (49cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Piciformes
Family : Picidae -- Genus : Dryocopus -- Species : D. pileatus

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