Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpeckers have returned to my yard and are very visible.  A couple of days ago, I was surprised to see that they had returned to the suet feeders.   It is a real treat to have pileated woodpeckers visit so check out your backyard to see if you see these very large woodpeckers visiting. 

Pileated Woodpeckers are large beautiful birds that are black with a white stripe down the neck and a bright red cap-like crest on their head. It is easy to tell the female from the male.  The female has a black mustache and the male has a red distinctive mustache. 

Pileated Woodpeckers prefer to live in mature forests.  They can also be found in younger forests with decaying trees as well as in neighborhoods like the one in which I live.  I often hear their loud thunderous pecking at the dead trees in my backyard. Pileated Woodpeckers loud pecking or drumming is also a way to attract mates and to announce the boundaries of their territories. Pairs of Pileated Woodpeckers establish territories and live on them all year long (https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/p/pileated-woodpecker/). 

Pileated Woodpeckers drill large rectangular holes in trees looking for their favorite food, carpenter ants.  Even though carpenter ants are their favorite food, Pileated Woodpeckers also eat other ants, beetle larvae, termites, and other insects such as flies, spruce budworm, caterpillars, cockroaches, and grasshoppers. They also eat wild fruits and nuts, including greenbrier, hackberry, sassafrass, blackberries, sumac berries, poison ivy, holly, dogwood, persimmon, and elderberry (https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Pileated_Woodpecker/lifehistory). 
The holes that Pileated Woodpeckers make looking for food often become shelter for other birds and animals.

More about Pileated Woodpeckers at: 
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/p/pileated-woodpecker/
http://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/pileated-woodpecker
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Pileated_Woodpecker/lifehistory

Check out their calls and sounds:
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Pileated_Woodpecker/sounds

Photos of the Pileated Woodpecker

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