Adult Pileated Woodpeckers are 40 to 49 cm (16 to 19 in) long, span 66 to 75 cm (26 to 30 in) across the wings and weigh between 250 to 400 g. They are mainly black with a red crest, and have a white line down the sides of the throat. They show white on the wings in flight. The flight of these birds is strong and direct . Adult males have a red line from the bill to the throat, in adult females these are black.

Habitat and Distribution

This bird inhabits deciduous forests in eastern North America, the Great Lakes, the boreal forests of Canada, and parts of the Pacific coast. specifically prefer mesic habitats with large, mature hardwood trees, often being found in large tracts of forest. However, they also inhabit smaller woodlots as long as they have a scattering of tall trees. It is the largest woodpecker in the United States, except the possibly extinct Ivory-billed Woodpecker.


These birds mainly eat insects, especially carpenter ants and wood-boring beetle larvae. They also eat fruits, nuts, and berries, including poison ivy berries


Breeding starts in April. Pileated Woodpeckers raise their young in a hole in a tree. The hole is excavated by the male. They also nest in nest boxes about 4.6 m (15 ft) off the ground. Both parents incubate three to five eggs for 12 to 16 days. The young may take a month to fledge.

Calls and Songs

The call is a loud, far-carrying laugh, sometimes described as a jungle bird call due its wild, un-fettered quality.