As one of the largest forest birds on the North American continent, the pileated woodpecker is a sight to behold. With bold black and white stripes on the face and neck and a vibrant red crest, you cannot miss this majestic bird. Not only are the pileated woodpecker’s looks distinctive, but also its voice.
Known for its unique sound, you can hear the woodpecker’s high-pitched vocals most frequently during the spring and summer in its resting territories consisting of a ‘waa’, ‘wok’, ‘wuk’ and ‘cuk, cuk, cuk’. Its drumming noise, produced in a rolling pattern, is heard when the bill of the woodpecker hits dead trees at great speed when foraging for food. The large openings made by the woodpeckers can weaken smaller trees and even cause some to break. The openings also provide shelter for many other species, making the woodpeckers vital to the ecosystem.
The pileated woodpecker is adaptable and can live in various areas. They take refuge in both coniferous and deciduous trees as long as their favorite food, carpenter ants and beetle larvae, are supplied. From eastern and northwestern United States and up to Canada, the pileated woodpecker lives in forest types consisting of swamps of the south to the Douglas-firs in the northwest. The woodpeckers use their drumming to attract mates and establish boundaries of their territories with those partners.