A Pileated Woodpecker is the woodpecker that you remember from the woody woodpecker comics of the early 20th century, with that crazy hee ha hah he ha he … ha ha ha ha laugh…that we all can recall from the porky pig comic days. This special ancient and long lived bird is a marvel for its size and its persistent nature. Often calling with an actual call that sounds like a kuk-kuk-kukkuk—kuk-kuk or even a laughing, loud chicken like call that is almost spiritual in essence. With the ring and hurried call that comes from this very large bird, you can often hear it from a distance, as it often lives within a stock of old growth trees. Looking within the trees, and bouncing from high above the ground, the pileated woodpecker is a frequent visitor in oaks and elm trees.
Pileated Woodpecker Determinations
A large woodpecker, the only other wood pecker in the north american landscape that was this large, is the nearly extinct the ivory-billed woodpecker. The pileated woodpecker does not show large white wing patching or on the edges of its wing, like the Ivory-Billed. The Pileated woodpecker marks a spectacular red crest, and it is the definitive mark of the woody woodpecker, or Hylatomus pileatus. Creative cartoon work used the most unusual bird, for this character, and like its cartoon match, the bird is larger than most, crow like in size. Usually you will expect this bird to be from 17 inches to almost 20 inches long. It has a wide wing span, and wing beats that flash little hints of white, but nothing like the ivory-billed white edges.
Pileated Woodpecker Food Requirements
Eating within great old growth trees, like red oaks, oaks, elms, maples or even large forests of pine and furs, the Pileated Woodpecker will expect dead trees, and look for places to roost high among the tops of the forest. Usually mated for life, the pileated woodpecker will find a mate, a grove of old large trees, and stay in place. In our small little cul-de-sac, we are fortunate to have the experience of pileated pairs roosting and nesting for year after year. Not a day goes by where our neighborhood is not treated to a distinctive call from our largest inhabitant, and flurry of feathers from the distance. Our area is an old oak growth forest, and has much to offer our pairs of pileated woodpeckers. Worms, bugs, insects, grubs, wood wax mealy bugs, and beetles are everywhere in these old trees, and that is the protein that this woodpecker is searching for, in the trees. Being equipped with a large bill, and a great ability to move further into wood for food, the pileated woodpecker is the king of woodpeckers, and will illuminate your neighborhood in many ways.
Songs and Calls of the Pileated Woodpecker
The elusive nature of this woodpecker brings a joy and a magic to our woods and neighborhood. Many people stop by, and watch for them, often hearing them, but not seeing this magical spirit. The bird is often quick, so it is hard to capture a photo from the ground. The beauty and magistracy of the pileated woodpeaker comes not just from the large bird itself, but the movement, and the ghost like call that you hear.
Look for large trees, camp out with a pair of binoculars and an open ear, and you too may hear the pileated woodpecker laugh at you.