Pileated Woodpecker

(Dryocopus pileatus)

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

Pileated Woodpecker


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed




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.


Year-round resident





Piciformes (woodpeckers and relatives)



Picidae (woodpeckers)











Visitor Photos

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Gorgeous bird!

  Pileated Woodpecker   Pileated Woodpecker


I just moved to MN from SoCal. This was one of the coolest things I've seen. Beautiful with his red crown and right in my yard!

  Pileated Woodpecker    

Lynn Connors

  Pileated Woodpecker    

Tom Baker

  Pileated Woodpecker    


MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos


Pileated Woodpecker Sign

Rectangular Excavation

  Pileated Woodpecker   Pileated Woodpecker
  Pileated Woodpecker   Pileated Woodpecker

Wood Chips at the Base of a Tree

  Pileated Woodpecker   Pileated Woodpecker







Visitor Videos

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Other Videos

  Pileated Woodpecker Nest
WIld Bird Video Productions

Published on Jun 12, 2012

I was recording a Raven family in a northern Connecticut forest when I heard these Pileated Woodpeckers calling near by. Looks like they are just about ready to fly. ©2012 www.JimZipp.com

  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.





Visitor Sightings

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Location: Plymouth

My first time seeing this bird - what a thrill!


Location: Owatonna

gorgeous bird!

Pileated Woodpecker


Location: Edina MN


Location: Jackson MN

Arne Bokkers

Location: Fergus Falls

On our deck looking for the bird feeders


Location: Mahtomedi

I just moved to MN from SoCal. This was one of the coolest things I've seen. Beautiful with his red crown a D right in my yard!

Pileated Woodpecker


Location: Pelican Lake MN

Saw it going up the oak tree right outside our living room.


Location: Little Falls,MN

We have two of them that I see almost daily come to both the suet feeder and on our trees. They are beautiful!


Location: Mankato, Mn

Just a glimpse of a female flying by in Rasmussen Woods at 7:45 am. Wow ! I've been wanting to see one for some time !


Location: Plymouth, southwest corner Medicine Lake

Watched a pair Mate this morning. Guessing thats a once in a lifetime. They maybe setting up shop, nesting, in a big oak right off my deck.

Tom Brinda

Location: Green Heron Pond, University Of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Chaska, MN 55318

​A major accomplishment on my life list:  ​
A single bird was sighted in the top of sugar maples in mature forest, on the edge of Green Heron Pond. When startled, the bird moved to the back side of the trees, and stayed aloof, though verbal throughout the sighting. Two types of calls were heard, one being the more familiar ​but very loud, ​sharp​,​ cherp-peep of wood peckers, and the other was the inspiration for Woody Woodpecker of television fame.  The Arboretum is 1100 acres of forest, wetland and cultivated gardens, located in Chaska, MN.  Feeders at the Oswald visitor center and native plant restorations provide​ generous amounts of ​varied ​habitat for birds like these.

​Temperatures at time of sighting were minus 15F wind-chill, 6 F, blue sky, sunshine, wind from the NW at 15 mph.​


Location: South Saint Paul near highway 52.

The woodpecker was seen on a maple tree in the neighbors back yard.  It was pecking at the tree for about a half hour and left.  We found out what kind of woodpecker it was by doing a google search for woodpeckers in Minnesota and recognized a picture of it.  We were surprised at how big it was.  We didn’t know there was a woodpecker that big. 

Lynn Connors

Location: 16192 Old Highway 14m Waseca, MN

I took this picture today at our suet feeder.  We live three miles east of Waseca in a woods. First time we have seen one here in the 20 years we have lived here.

Pileated Woodpecker


Location: Camp Arrowhead. South of Deerwood, MN on Hwy 6

Tom Baker


Pileated Woodpecker


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