Pileated Woodpecker

(Dryocopus pileatus)

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

LC - Least concern Pileated Woodpecker


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked




Extensive, mature deciduous, mixed, or coniferous forest, riparian woodlands, suburban woodlots.


16 to 19





      Photo by Tom Baker


This is the largest woodpecker in Minnesota, and the largest in the United States with the exception of the possibly extinct Ivory-billed Woodpecker. Adults are slightly smaller than an American Crow, 16 to 19 in length with a 26 to 30 wingspan. They weigh 8.8 to 14 ounces. They survive about 13 years in the wild.

The body, tail, and wings are mostly dull black.

The bases of the primary and secondary wing feathers are white, forming a small white crescent in the upper wing surface that is only visible when the bird is in flight. A small white patch of these feathers may be visible when the bird is perched. The underside of the wing is mostly white but the trailing edge is black.

The head is black and white with a prominent crest. The male has a red crest, red crown, and red forehead—the red extends from the bill to the nape of the neck. The female has a red crest only—the red extends from the nape of the neck to the rear part of the crown. The male also has a narrow, red stripe running from the bill to the throat. The chin is white, the bill is dark, and the eyes are yellow. There is a white line that extends from the bill, beneath the eye, down the neck, and onto the side of the body.




This bird excavates large, rectangular holes in in trees. Scattered, large wood chips are often found at the base of a tree with a recently excavated hole.


No similar species in Minnesota.


Carpenter ants, wood-boring beetle larvae, berries, and nuts.


In early spring the male excavates a large nest hole in a dead tree. If he attracts a female, the two of them will finish excavating the nest cavity. The entrance hole to the finished nest cavity is rectangular.

The female lays usually four white eggs, sometimes as few as one or as many as six. The eggs hatch 15 to 18 days later. The young stay in the nest 24 to 28 days.

There is only one brood per year. A new nest is excavated each year.







Piciformes (woodpeckers and relatives)



Picidae (woodpeckers)











Visitor Photos

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Tom Baker

  Pileated Woodpecker    

MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos



  Pileated Woodpecker   Pileated Woodpecker
  Pileated Woodpecker   Pileated Woodpecker







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Other Videos

  Pileated Woodpecker (Picidae: Dryocopus pileatus) Feeding
Carl Barrentine

Uploaded on Oct 2, 2010

Photographed at Grand Forks, North Dakota (01 October 2010).

  Pileated Woodpecker (Picidae: Dryocopus pileatus) Close-up
Carl Barrentine

Uploaded on Oct 2, 2010

Photographed at Grand Forks, North Dakota (01 October 2010).

  Pileated woodpecker, Dryocopus pileatus

Published on Sep 5, 2013

I don't know why he was so upset, maybe he was looking for his mate, or maybe saw a cat. This went on for at least 15 minutes.

  Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)

Published on Sep 10, 2013

Having grown up in rural Alberta, I have an inordinate fondness for the aspen woodlands. One of my favourite woodpeckers is the pileated woodpecker and given the opportunity i love to capture them on film. Some years I am lucky enough to stumble onto a nesting hole.




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