Pileated Woodpecker at 16 to 19 inches long, is the second largest
woodpecker in North America. Only the newly rediscovered Ivory-billed
Woodpecker is larger. The Pileated Woodpecker can be found
throughout eastern North America south of the boreal forest and east
and north of the open prairies and arid Southwest. Carpenter ants are
the primary food of this woodpecker. For this reason they prefer to
nest in streamside forests where the higher humidity promotes decay and
The nesting hole is roughly triangular in shape and quite large. It is commonly found between 15 and 80 ft above the ground.
The Pileated Woodpecker family depicted in this photo essay, occupied the upper hole in the poplar tree shown here. This hole was approximately 30 ft above the ground.
days after birth, the young are able to peer out from the nesting hole
as they await the arrival of their parents and a meal of regurgitated
The young can be quite vocal and often call to the parents as they sense their approach. Pileated Woodpecker Call.
|These two young males were very close to
fledging and often extended their bodies far out of the hole when they
sensed the arrival of a parent.
|The adult Pileated Woodpecker is
characterized by its long neck and red crest. Both sexes exhibit the
red crest. However, the red of the male's crest extends from the base
of the bill to the rear of the head. Only the rear half of the female's
crest is red. Males also have a red moustache spot.
|At this stage of their growth the young
woodpeckers can be very aggressive in their desire to be fed. The adult
must approach carefully to avoid being injured.
|The adult feeds the young by inserting its
bill full length into its throat and vigorously regurgitating the
meal of carpenter ants. It was observed that only one of the
young was fed during each visit by an adult. The male and female
will take turns feeding the young. They will return to the nesting hole
every 30 to 40 minutes from sunrise to sunset.
|The young are very alert and are
constantly on the look out for the returning parent and the next meal.
|The arrival of the female Pileated
Woodpecker is heralded by much vocalization by the young.
Two days after this series of images was made, both young males left the nest . They will spend the summer with their parents learning to fend for themselves.
It is very possible that at this time next year the adult Pileated Woodpeckers will nest again in this area, possibly in the same tree.