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Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker.  Photo by Stephen Ofsthun
Stephen Ofsthun



A large, crow-sized black woodpecker with a prominent red crest and a contrasting white stripe down each side of the head and neck. In flight, the white undersides of the wings are visible. Males and females are not alike; the red coloration of the crest extends on to the forehead of the male and the male has a red “moustache” behind the bill. Pileated woodpeckers are distinctive from all other common woodpeckers. Most closely resembles an American crow in flight except that the crow has black coloration under the wings, and lacks the woodpecker’s crest and white neck stripes.


15-19 inches in length. 26-30 inch wingspan.


Pileated woodpeckers occur in large stands of mature timber. Rare in central Oklahoma, it’s relatively common in the largely forested parts of the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains. It is occasionally seen at bird feeders, especially in wooded, rural areas. This species is non-migratory; the winter and breeding season ranges are the same.

Life History

Pileated Woodpeckers usually forage alone or in pairs. It typically searches for food on tree trunks and remains close to trees. This species maintains a large territory, often in excess of 200 acres, and roams over that area. At bird feeders, pileated woodpeckers feed on suet, miracle meal, raisins, chopped apples, peanuts, nuts and sunflower seeds. Away from feeders, they eat insects, fruits and nuts.

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