Hey guys welcome back! Today the largest woodpecker in North America, the pileated woodpecker! A couple of you may argue that, as the ivory-billed woodpecker is larger, and thought to be extinct, although there were supposed sightings of one in 2005. But we aren’t here to go down that rabbit hole. If anyone is interested there’s plenty of articles out there, including this one on the subject.
Anyway, the pileated woodpecker is a large, crow-sized woodpecker with a cool red crest. In fact, that’s what the name pileated means; crested. This is another bird species whose name is pronounced differently by different people, and all pronunciations are accepted. I first learned it as “pill-ee-ated” but upon moving back to Ohio, encountered many more people that pronounced it “pie-lee-ated” so I started saying it that way. Still others say “pile-ated.” However you say it, this is one cool bird.
The pileated woodpecker is, like many woodpeckers, black and white with some red on its head. Although not sexually dimorphic at first glance, the male actually has a red malar, sometimes referred to as its “mustache” while the female’s is black. Their favorite food is carpenter ants, and they will make large rectangular holes in trees while excavating for ant colonies. Once they’ve eaten all of the bugs inside, they move on, leaving the holes in trees available for nesting wrens and other birds to move in. In flight they are most confused with a crow because of their size and deliberate wing beats, but the large white underwing patches are a trait not shared with the all black crow.
I remember the first one I saw. I was still living in New York, but was back in Ohio visiting family. I went out birding and suddenly there was one right in front of me. It flew off rather quickly, but I was in awe at just how large it was. It’s one thing to know they are huge woodpeckers, but it’s another to see it. Never saw one in NYC as they really need a lot of tall mature trees and forested areas and NYC just doesn’t have that. Here in Ohio, they;re pretty much everywhere! Next up, back to waterfowl! Our first duck species in quite a while, the American wigeon! See you then.