Dryocopus pileatus - (Linnaeus, 1758)
Pileated Woodpecker
Other English Common Names: pileated woodpecker
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Dryocopus pileatus (Linnaeus, 1758) (TSN 178166)
French Common Names: grand pic
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.102132
Element Code: ABNYF12020
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Birds - Other Birds
Image 11324

© Larry Master

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Aves Piciformes Picidae Dryocopus
Genus Size: C - Small genus (6-20 species)
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Concept Reference
Concept Reference: American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American birds. Seventh edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. [as modified by subsequent supplements and corrections published in The Auk]. Also available online: http://www.aou.org/.
Concept Reference Code: B98AOU01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Dryocopus pileatus
Taxonomic Comments: Variation seems generally clinal: birds from northern areas average slightly larger than those from the southeast; those from Pacific Northwest, slightly darker than elsewhere (Bull and Jackson 1995). Considered part of a superspecies including the black-bodied woodpecker (dryocopus [pileatus] shulzi) of south-central South America and the lineated woodpecker (D. [pileatus] lineatus) of Middle and South America by Short (1982).

Four geographic races recognized by AOU (1957): D. P. pileatus - midwest U.S. to south Atlantic and Gulf coasts; D. P. picinus - British Columbia to California, Montana, south to north Arizona and southwest New Mexico; D. P. ABIETICOLA - northeast British Columbia, across Canada and northern U.S. to maritimes and northeast U.S.; and D. P. floridanus - Florida peninsula. Two geographic races were recognized by Short (1982) and Winkler et al. (1995): D. P. abieticola from western and northern areas, andD. P. pileatus from eastern and southern areas.
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 07Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 02Dec1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Widely distributed in wooded areas of North America; population has been stable or increasing in recent decades.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5 (05Jan1997)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N5 (02Jan2018)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (S5), Arkansas (S4), California (SNR), Connecticut (S5), Delaware (S3), District of Columbia (S3), Florida (SNR), Georgia (S4), Idaho (S4), Illinois (S5), Indiana (S4), Iowa (S3B), Kansas (S3), Kentucky (S5), Louisiana (S5), Maine (S5), Maryland (S5), Massachusetts (S4), Michigan (S5), Minnesota (SNR), Mississippi (S5), Missouri (SNR), Montana (S3), Nebraska (S1), Nevada (S1), New Hampshire (S5), New Jersey (S4B,S4N), New York (S5), North Carolina (S5), North Dakota (S3), Ohio (S5), Oklahoma (S3), Oregon (S4), Pennsylvania (S5), Rhode Island (S1B,S1N), South Carolina (SNR), South Dakota (S1), Tennessee (S4), Texas (S4B), Vermont (S5), Virginia (S5), Washington (S4), West Virginia (S5B,S5N), Wisconsin (S4B)
Canada Alberta (S4), British Columbia (S5), Manitoba (S5), New Brunswick (S5), Northwest Territories (S3S4), Nova Scotia (S5), Ontario (S5), Prince Edward Island (S2), Quebec (S4), Saskatchewan (S3S4), Yukon Territory (S1)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: >2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: RESIDENT: from southern and eastern British Columbia and southwestern Mackenzie across southern Canada to Quebec and Nova Scotia, south in Pacific states to central California, in the Rocky Mountains to Idaho and western Montana, in the central and eastern U.S. to the eastern Dakotas, Gulf Coast, and southern Florida, and west in the eastern U.S. to Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas (AOU 1983). Absent from or very limited in much of northern Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. In the Great Plains, found primarily along the eastern edge in bottomland forests along major streams. In recent years, however, there have been increasing numbers of records farther west than illustrated in Bull and Jackson (1995). In Oklahoma these include records west to Major, Caddo, Woodward, and Comanche counties, Oklahoma (Ely 1990, Baumgartner and Baumgartner 1992, McGee and Neeld 1972, Powders 1986). Also reported from Nebraska (Rapp 1953), a return after disappearance at the end of the last century. Maps in Winkler et al. (1995) show the species much farther north in western Canada than known. See also range map for Canada in Godfrey (1986). There are many extralimital records. In the east, occurs from sea level to 1500+ m in the Appalachians; in California to about 2300 m (Short 1982).

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Many occurrences.

Population Size: 10,000 to >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Geographic variation in abundance is linked to availability and quality of habitat. Comparative data are few, but Price et al. (in press, and in Bull and Jackson 1995) show areas of greatest numbers on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Breeding Bird Surveys to be in the southeastern United States.

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Major threats are (from greatest to least): (1) conversion of forest habitats to non-forest habitats, (2) short rotation, even-age forestry, (3) monoculture forestry, (4) forest fragmentation, (5) removal of logging residue, downed wood, and pine straw that would ultimately put nutrients back into the ecosystem and provide foraging substrate, (6) lightning striking cavity/roost trees because they are the oldest, tallest trees around as a result of cutting priorities, (7) deliberate killing by humans, and (8) toxic chemicals. The first four threats are ones that have been a major concern for some time. As an example of habitat losses, nonfederal forested wetlands decreased by 5 million acres in the continental U.S. between 1982 and 1987 (Cubbage and Flather 1992). Forest fragmentation has been recognized as a major problem for many wildlife species (e.g., Wilcove 1990), but it results in habitat changes within as well as between fragments. In the southeast, smaller fragments tend to become drier (hence less conducive to conditions favorable to the pileated) and also change in plant species composition and tend towards younger successional stages (Rudis 1992). Removal of logging residue, downed wood, and pine straw from forested areas is becoming increasingly common. Considerable research directed at finding ways to maximize economic returns from the forest through such actions is being conducted by the U.S. Forest Service and others (e.g., Howard and Setzer 1989) and pine straw is currently sold on some southern forests. Removing these materials not only removes the nutrients they contain and foraging substrates for pileated woodpeckers and others, but also changes the water balance of the forest floor, making the forest a drier environment less suitable for the arthropod fauna the woodpecker is dependent on. Shooting by humans was a serious problem in the past (e.g., Sclater 1912, Stoddard 1947) and continues in some areas (Jackson, pers.obs.). The birds are an impressive and easy target and in some quarters are considered to harm trees. Becker (1942) offered one of the most detailed accounts of the disappearance of the species. Toxic chemicals can affect woodpeckers in two ways: (1) by direct poisoning and (2) by killing their arthropod prey. Careless use of agricultural chemicals and widespread control programs such as have been conducted in the past against the imported fire ant can have both affects. In addition, when woodpeckers nest in chemically treated utility poles, embryos or chicks can be killed by the fumes (Rumsey 1970). In the eastern U.S., rat snakes (ELAPHE OBSOLETA) have been reported as nestling predators (Gress and Wiens 1983, Kilham 1959, Moore 1984). Both sharp-shinned (ACCIPITER STRIATUS; Smith 1983) and Cooper's (A. COOPERI; Michael 1921) hawks are known as potential predators on pileated woodpeckers. Erdman (pers. comm.) has found remains of adults and juveniles at goshawk (A. GENTILIS) nests in Wisconsin. The sharp-shinned hawk is certainly more of a threat to fledglings than to adults. Todd (1944) reported predation by a gray fox (UROCYON CINEREOARGENTEUS) on a ground-feeding pileated in Tennessee. Because they feed extensively on the ground, woodpeckers are vulnerable to being killed by vehicles as they approach or leave feeding sites (e.g., Eifrig 1944), an argument for keeping downed wood away from highway rights-of-ways.

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable to increase of <25%
Short-term Trend Comments: North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) data indicate a significant increase of 33% in North America between 1966 and 1993, and a nonsignificant increase of 5.3% between 1984 and 1993 (Price et al. 1995). As evidenced from the historical literature, populations have fluctuated greatly over the years. They declined with clearing of the forests in the late 1800s, but increased again as forest reclaimed abandoned farms (Becker 1942, Bull and Jackson 1995, Pearsall 1976, Peterjohn 1989). Declines may have been greater in the northeastern U.S. than in the southeastern U.S. (Hoyt 1941). In Ohio, had vanished from most areas except the Allegheny Plateau and the extreme northeast, and Jones (1903) considered the species in danger of extinction. Jacobs (1933) recalled the pileated as a common woodland bird in southwestern Pennsylvania in the 1880s, but near extinction in the early 1930s. Since the late 1920s and early 1930s, when many farms were abandoned, has increased in numbers and in area occupied. Widespread death of large American elms as a result of Dutch elm disease since 1930 has resulted in increases in arthropod foods and potential nesting/roosting sites (Nicholls 1994), leading to growth and expansion of populations. Hoyt (1963) analyzed Christmas Bird Count (CBC) data for five New England states from 1920 to 1959 and demonstrated a dramatic increase through the years. Robbins (1991) examined CBC data for Wisconsin and found a similar trend in increasing numbers from 1962 to 1986. Most authors reported noticeable increases beginning in the 1960s and continuing into the 1990s.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) RESIDENT: from southern and eastern British Columbia and southwestern Mackenzie across southern Canada to Quebec and Nova Scotia, south in Pacific states to central California, in the Rocky Mountains to Idaho and western Montana, in the central and eastern U.S. to the eastern Dakotas, Gulf Coast, and southern Florida, and west in the eastern U.S. to Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas (AOU 1983). Absent from or very limited in much of northern Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. In the Great Plains, found primarily along the eastern edge in bottomland forests along major streams. In recent years, however, there have been increasing numbers of records farther west than illustrated in Bull and Jackson (1995). In Oklahoma these include records west to Major, Caddo, Woodward, and Comanche counties, Oklahoma (Ely 1990, Baumgartner and Baumgartner 1992, McGee and Neeld 1972, Powders 1986). Also reported from Nebraska (Rapp 1953), a return after disappearance at the end of the last century. Maps in Winkler et al. (1995) show the species much farther north in western Canada than known. See also range map for Canada in Godfrey (1986). There are many extralimital records. In the east, occurs from sea level to 1500+ m in the Appalachians; in California to about 2300 m (Short 1982).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The maps for birds represent the breeding status by state and province. In some jurisdictions, the subnational statuses for common species have not been assessed and the status is shown as not-assessed (SNR). In some jurisdictions, the subnational status refers to the status as a non-breeder; these errors will be corrected in future versions of these maps. A species is not shown in a jurisdiction if it is not known to breed in the jurisdiction or if it occurs only accidentally or casually in the jurisdiction. Thus, the species may occur in a jurisdiction as a seasonal non-breeding resident or as a migratory transient but this will not be indicated on these maps. See other maps on this web site that depict the Western Hemisphere ranges of these species at all seasons of the year.
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, AR, CA, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV
Canada AB, BC, MB, NB, NS, NT, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: WILDSPACETM 2002

U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
IA Clinton (19045), Decatur (19053), Ringgold (19159), Scott (19163)
ID Adams (16003), Boise (16015), Bonner (16017), Custer (16037), Elmore (16039), Idaho (16049), Kootenai (16055), Latah (16057), Lemhi (16059), Nez Perce (16069), Shoshone (16079), Valley (16085)
MT Beaverhead (30001), Broadwater (30007), Cascade (30013), Flathead (30029), Gallatin (30031), Glacier (30035), Golden Valley (30037), Granite (30039), Jefferson (30043), Judith Basin (30045), Lake (30047), Lewis and Clark (30049), Lincoln (30053), Madison (30057), Meagher (30059), Mineral (30061), Missoula (30063), Park (30067), Powell (30077), Ravalli (30081), Sanders (30089), Silver Bow (30093)
ND Cass (38017), Cavalier (38019), Grand Forks (38035), Pembina (38067)*, Ransom (38073), Richland (38077), Walsh (38099)
NE Nemaha (31127), Richardson (31147), Sarpy (31153)
RI Kent (44003), Providence (44007)
SD Roberts (46109)
WA Chelan (53007)+, Clallam (53009)+, Cowlitz (53015)+, Island (53029)+, King (53033)+, Kitsap (53035)+, Kittitas (53037)+, Lewis (53041)+, Mason (53045)+, Okanogan (53047)+, Pacific (53049)+, Pend Oreille (53051)+, Pierce (53053)+, Skagit (53057)+, Snohomish (53061)+, Spokane (53063)+, Stevens (53065)+, Thurston (53067)+, Whatcom (53073)+, Yakima (53077)+
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
01 Narragansett (01090004)+, Pawcatuck-Wood (01090005)+
07 Upper Minnesota (07020001)+, Lower Wapsipinicon (07080103)+
09 Upper Red (09020104)+, Western Wild Rice (09020105)+, Lower Sheyenne (09020204)+, Maple (09020205)+, Sandhill-Wilson (09020301)+*, Grand Marais-Red (09020306)+, Turtle (09020307)+, Forest (09020308)+, Park (09020310)+*, Lower Red (09020311)+, Lower Pembina River (09020316)+, Belly (09040002)+
10 Beaverhead (10020002)+, Big Hole (10020004)+, Jefferson (10020005)+, Boulder (10020006)+, Upper Missouri (10030101)+, Upper Missouri-Dearborn (10030102)+, Smith (10030103)+, Two Medicine (10030201)+, Cut Bank (10030202)+, Judith (10040103)+, Upper Musselshell (10040201)+, Yellowstone Headwaters (10070001)+, Upper James (10160003)+, Big Papillion-Mosquito (10230006)+, Tarkio-Wolf (10240005)+, Thompson (10280102)+
17 Upper Kootenai (17010101)+, Fisher (17010102)+, Yaak (17010103)+, Lower Kootenai (17010104)+, Moyie (17010105)+, Elk (17010106)+, Upper Clark Fork (17010201)+, Flint-Rock (17010202)+, Blackfoot (17010203)+, Middle Clark Fork (17010204)+, Bitterroot (17010205)+, North Fork Flathead (17010206)+, Middle Fork Flathead (17010207)+, Flathead Lake (17010208)+, South Fork Flathead (17010209)+, Stillwater (17010210)+, Swan (17010211)+, Lower Flathead (17010212)+, Lower Clark Fork (17010213)+, Priest (17010215)+, Pend Oreille (17010216), Upper Coeur D'alene (17010301)+, St. Joe (17010304)+, Upper Spokane (17010305)+, Little Spokane (17010308), Franklin D. Roosevelt Lake (17020001), Kettle (17020002), Colville (17020003), Similkameen (17020007), Methow (17020008), Lake Chelan (17020009), Wenatchee (17020011), Upper Yakima (17030001), Naches (17030002), Lower Yakima, Washington (17030003), North and Middle Forks Boise (17050111)+, Boise-Mores (17050112)+, North Fork Payette (17050123)+, Weiser (17050124)+, Hells Canyon (17060101)+, Lower Snake-Asotin (17060103)+, Upper Salmon (17060201)+, Middle Salmon-Panther (17060203)+, Lemhi (17060204)+, Upper Middle Fork Salmon (17060205)+, Middle Salmon-Chamberlain (17060207)+, South Fork Salmon (17060208)+, Lower Salmon (17060209)+, Upper Selway (17060301)+, Lochsa (17060303)+, South Fork Clearwater (17060305)+, Clearwater (17060306)+, Lewis (17080002), Lower Cowlitz (17080005), Upper Chehalis (17100103), Willapa Bay (17100106), Upper Skagit (17110005), Lower Skagit (17110007), Snohomish (17110011), Lake Washington (17110012), Duwamish (17110013), Puyallup (17110014), Nisqually (17110015), Hood Canal (17110018), Puget Sound (17110019), Dungeness-Elwha (17110020), Crescent-Hoko (17110021)
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Basic Description: A very large (42 cm long) crested woodpecker.
General Description: A crested, black woodpecker with wing span of about 70 cm. More or less uniformly black body with a white line extending down the neck from the bill to underwing area; white throat and line above the eye; black through the eye. Male with a vivid red crest extending from the bill to the nape and a red moustache mark extending from the bill. Female slightly smaller than male and with gray to brown forehead, red crest, and no red moustache mark. In all sex and age groups, a few gray-white bars can be found on the flanks. In flight, wings show black leading and trailing edges and white near the center of the wing close to the body. Juveniles have duller, more loosely textured feathers; primary 10 is longer, broader, and less pointed. Details and colored photo in Bull and Jackson (1995). Nestlings naked at hatching.

EGGS: glossy white. See illustration and chick description in Harrison 1978.

VOCALIZATIONS: a loud, characteristic kuk-kuk-kuk-kuk; drumming a deep resonant roll that carries a kilometer or more.

Diagnostic Characteristics: Except for the probably extinct ivory-billed woodpecker (CAMPEPHILUS PRINCIPALIS) of the southeastern United States and imperial woodpecker (C. IMPERIALIS) of montane western Mexico, the pileated is the largest woodpecker in North America.
Reproduction Comments: Pairs share a territory year round (Bull and Jackson 1995). On warm days of February and early March in the southeastern U.S. and March through early April in northern areas there is an increase in vocalizations and drumming associated with pair formation and increased territoriality. Vocalizations and drumming take place with greatest frequency in early morning and late afternoon (Hoyt 1941). Courtship behavior is described in detail by Kilham (1979, 1983), with additional details and circumstances by Arthur (1934), Hoyt (1944), and Oberman (1989). Nest construction, egg-laying, hatching, and fledging are also progressively later from south to north (Bull and Jackson 1995) and likely from lower to higher altitudes (at least in California, Harris 1982).

Early egg dates in the southern U.S. are in early March; late egg dates, from northern areas, are in mid-June. Similarly, nestlings have been found from mid-May in the southeast to mid-July in the north (Bull and Jackson 1995, Peterjohn 1989). Young remain with adults at least through late summer or early fall. Clutch size is usually 3-4 throughout the range (Bent 1939, Christy 1939); a clutch of 6 was reported by Audubon and Chevalier (1842). Incubation takes 15-19 days (Bendire 1895, Hoyt 1944, Kilham 1979), by both sexes. Young are tended by both parents, leave nest at 22-26 days (Hoyt 1944, Bull and Jackson 1995).

Longevity records thus far include several birds surviving for 9 years (Bull and Jackson 1995, Bull and Meslow 1988, Hoyt and Hoyt 1951, Hoyt 1952). However, through 1981, there had only been 15 recoveries from a total of 670 banded (Clapp et al. 1983), thus it is quite possible that this species could live much longer.

Ecology Comments: In Missouri, population density varied from 0.5 to 4.1 territories per 100 ha, with the highest densities of birds positively correlated with increasing area of old growth bottom land forest, increasing canopy closure, and increasing density of snags greater than 0.54 cm dbh (Renken and Wiggers 1993). In western Oregon, mature forests support higher populations than do younger forests (Mannan et al. 1980).

In Missouri, territory sizes ranged from 53-160 ha, and territory size decreased with increasing percent forest overstory canopy cover, increasing saw timber cover, and log and stump volume (Renken and Wiggers 1989). In conifer forests of northeastern Oregon, home range was 128-240 ha (Bull and Meslow 1977). Home range in New York varied in radius from 4.8 to 6.4 km in a mixed conifer-hardwood forest (Hoyt 1957) [Note: these data do not appear in the cited Hoyt 1957].

Parasites have rarely been reported, but include the following. Humpbacked flies (Phoridae), were found on nestlings in New York (Hoyt 1957). TOUCANECTES DRYOCOPI, a subcutaneous mite, was found in the head and neck region of Louisiana birds (Pence 1971). In Oregon nests, Wilson and Bull (1977) found DERMANYSSUS GALLINOIDES, a mite (Mesostigmata: Laelaptoidea) and CARNUS HEMAPTERUS, and a fly (Diptera: Milichiidae). Collins et al. (1966) identified two blood parasites, PLASMODIUM sp. and HAEMOPROTEUS sp. from a South Carolina bird. Nickol (1969) examined three Louisiana pileateds for Acanthocephala, but found none.

Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: Although generally considered to be a resident species, there is evidence of some migratory movement in the northern part of its range. Hall (1983) reported a small southward movement of pileated woodpeckers in fall along the Allegheny Front of West Virginia. Sutton (1930) also noted gradual southward movement in fall through New York state. In British Columbia, the paucity of winter records in the northern half of the province indicates that many breeding individuals there move considerable distances to the south (Campbell et al. 1990).
Palustrine Habitat(s): Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest - Conifer, Forest - Hardwood, Forest - Mixed, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Special Habitat Factors: Standing snag/hollow tree
Habitat Comments: Dense deciduous (favored in southeast), coniferous (favored in north, northwest and west), or mixed forest, open woodland, second growth, and (locally) parks and wooded residential areas of towns. Prefers woods with a tall closed canopy and a high basal area. Most often in areas of extensive forest or minimal isolation from extensive forest. Uses a minimum of 4 cavities per year (only one for raising brood).

In Missouri, abundance increased with area covered with bottomland forest, density of trees at least 30 cm dbh, and density of snags at least 54 cm dbh (Renken and Wiggers 1993). In West Virginia found in all forest types, at all elevations, but less common in spruce-northern hardwoods forest and most common in mixed hardwood forest (Hall 1983).

Nests are in cavities excavated by both sexes usually in dead stubs in shaded places; cavity entrance averages about 14 m above ground (see photos and descriptions in Harrison 1975, 1979). Usually digs a new hole for each year's brood, but the same cavity may be used for several years. Nest tree species and size varies among regions and even within regions depending on site and availability. In southern British Columbia, preferred nest sites were in live aspen with heartwood decay, in trees larger than 40 cm dbh (Harestad and Keisker 1989). In northwest Montana, most of 54 nest trees were large western larch (LARIX OCCIDENTALIS) and nest trees averaged 74.9 cm dbh (McClelland 1979). In northeast Oregon, 75% of nest trees were ponderosa pine (PINUS PONDEROSA) and mean dbh of nest trees was 84 cm (Bull 1987). In western Oregon, 73% of nest trees were Douglas-fir (PSEUDOTSUGA MENZIESII) and nest trees averaged 69 cm dbh (Mellen 1987). In Virginia, 28% of nest trees were hickory (CARYA spp.), 22% red oak (QUERCUS RUBRA), 17% chestnut oak (Q. PRINUS) and nest trees averaged 54.6 cm dbh (Conner et al. 1975). Most studies report nests 5-17 m above ground in wood softened by fungal rot, in trees usually 100-180 years old, over 51 cm DBH, 12-21 m tall, and often near permanent water (Bushman and Therres 1988).

Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore
Food Comments: Feeds extensively on carpenter ants (CAMPONOTUS spp.) and beetle larvae obtained by chiseling into standing trees, stumps, and logs; also digs into anthills on ground and eats other insects, fruits, and seeds (Hoyt 1957). In Wisconsin, Nicholls (1994) found the cerambycid wood borer, TRIGONARTHRIS, to be the major prey of pileated woodpeckers feeding at dead American elms (ULMUS AMERICANA). The preference of the birds for feeding at larger trees seemed related to the requirement of the beetles for larger trees as their habitat. There tends to be seasonal variation in the diet and foraging strategy to take advantage of available foods. More fruit and seeds are taken in late summer and fall (Conner 1979, Hoyt 1948, Sprunt and Chamberlain 1970); more excavation for arthropods is done in winter (Conner 1979, Hoyt 1948, Pfitzenmeyer 1956, Tanner 1942). Quantitative studies of diet include stomach content and scat analysis. In a range-wide, year-round study, Beal (1911) found 80 stomachs to include 22% beetles (Cerambycidae, Buprestidae, Elateridae, Lucanidae, Scarabaeidae, Carabidae), 40% ants (CAMPONOTUS sp., CREMATOGASTER sp.), 11% other insects, and 27% vegetable (numerous fruits, see Bull and Jackson 1995). Analyses of 330 scats in Oregon revealed 68% carpenter ants, 29% thatching ants (FORMICA), 0.4% beetles, and 2% other. The species is opportunistic, known to take advantage of insect outbreaks (e.g., western spruce budworm (CHORISTONEURA OCCIDENTALIS) Bull and Jackson 1995), the progression of fruiting trees in an area (Stoddard 1978), and to visit suet feeders in many areas of eastern North America (Connecticut, Hardy 1958; Mississippi, Jackson, pers. obs.; Tennessee, Spofford 1947; Georgia, Stoddard 1978; Minnesota, Tusler 1958 ).

Logs and stumps are important foraging substrates in many areas (e.g., Mannan 1984, Renken and Wiggers 1989, Schardien and Jackson 1978), but Aubry and Raley (1992) rarely observed foraging on logs in closed canopy forests of western Washington. Mannan (1984) found the pileated to forage on dead wood substrates 96% of the time.

Adult Phenology: Diurnal
Immature Phenology: Diurnal
Length: 42 centimeters
Weight: 308 grams
Economic Attributes
Economic Comments: Serious negative economic impact can result from woodpecker excavations in utility poles (Pfitzenmeyer 1956, Dennis 1964, Rumsey 1970). This problem seems to be most serious where the utility poles are near water and where mature forest and large snags are limited. Occasionally the pileated woodpecker damages wood-sided homes in forested settings. Pennant (1785) noted that it fed on ripe corn.
Management Summary
Stewardship Overview: The primary management concern is the provision of required forest habitats (Bull and Jackson 1995). These include both deciduous and coniferous forests, the most important characteristics of the forests being that they are extensive, include mature trees and snags, a more or less open forest floor littered with decaying wood, and a relatively humid environment that promotes fungal decay and the ant, termite, and beetle populations on which these birds feed. Streamside forests are particularly important because of the more humid environment they create and the linear and dendritic corridors they provide for dispersal of the birds into new areas. Successful management in an area will require maintenance of old growth forest with dense canopy cover, especially broad corridors along streams and lakes.
Species Impacts: Pileateds are a serious problem in some cavity clusters of the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker (PICOIDES BOREALIS) in the southeastern United States (Jackson 1978, 1994). The pileated enlarges red-cockaded woodpecker cavities, making them unsuitable for use by the endangered species. Apparently this action is usually in search of food, rather than appropriation of the cavity as a nest or roost site, although a pileated occasionally uses an enlarged cavity for roosting. Also thought to have harassed or competed with ivory-billed woodpeckers (Short and Horne 1990, Tanner 1942).

From an ecosystem management perspective, woodpeckers could have a negative impact on other species in that it may not be a good indicator of old growth forest (as it is being used) because it will forage in younger forests (Mellen et al. 1992). On the positive side, old pileated cavities and enlarged red-cockaded woodpecker cavities provide nesting sites for squirrels (SCIURUS spp.), wood ducks (AIX SPONSA), eastern screech owls (OTUS ASIO), and many other vertebrate and invertebrate species. Many of the prey of the pileated are insects of negative economic importance.

Restoration Potential: So long as appropriate areas of old growth forest are maintained, the potential for restoration of woodpecker populations is high. Introduction of birds to areas where they have been extirpated, such as Prince Edward Island (Godfrey 1986), may be possible using techniques developed by DeFazio et al. (1987) for red-cockaded woodpeckers. Captive breeding is a possibility, but has not been accomplished, nor is it an acceptable alternative to habitat maintenance. Several woodpeckers have been maintained in captivity, some for several years (Hoyt 1950, Rumsey 1968), thus at least the knowledge is available for short-term maintenance of birds that might be used in translocation efforts.
Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: Preserves should be designed differently for different geographic regions and habitat types. For example, in the eastern and southeastern U.S., every opportunity should be taken to link preserves to corridors of forest habitat along major rivers and streams. In montane areas of the west, preserves would be best along rivers and streams, but also on the windward rather than on the leeward sides of mountains because of the higher humidity (hence greater decay, hence greater food and nest site potential) associated with windward sites.

In various areas, reported as requiring forest patch sizes of at least 20-70 ha, unless other forested areas are nearby (Bushman and Therres 1988). Dispersal distances need to be known and considered when planning any preserve or management area, and data from birds in similar habitats within the region should be used for planning purposes. Dispersal data are scant at present, based on recoveries of banded birds in New York (32 km from site of banding) and Alberta (16 km), and from detailed studies of banded and radio-equipped birds in Oregon in which birds nested from 0.7 to 8.7 km from their natal site (Bull and Jackson 1995).

No estimates have been made of minimum viable population size for this species, nor for that matter have populations been carefully defined.

Management Requirements: Short and Horne (1990) listed five factors upon which conservation of European woodpeckers depends. These are a minimum starting point for the conservation of the pileated. The factors are: 1. Maintenance of wooded areas in which dead and dying trees are allowed to remain. 2. Retention of dead or dying stubs of some live trees. 3. Retention of dying trees in open areas of parkland, golf courses and woodland. 4. Management of wet forests to allow decay of rotting trees (it should be remembered that dying trees are part of the ecosystem, and their integration into new growth as humus is important to natural forest regeneration). 5. Selective cutting rather than clear-cutting of managed forests.

Optimal forest management practices for the mid-Atlantic states include those that maintain a density of around 24 snags per 40 ha; suitable nest sites can be provided by leaving uncut filter strips along streams or by maintaining dense stands where long-continued competition weakens sawtimber trees (Bushman and Therres 1988). Removal of thinning slash or logging debris (foraging substrates) reduces habitat quality (Renken and Wiggers 1989).

The woodpecker was selected as a management indicator of old growth forest ecosystems for some U.S. Forest Service regions. On Pacific Northwest forests, an emphasis has been placed on leaving > 5 standing dead trees (snags) per ha as potential nest and roost sites and on leaving 120 ha patches of older forests (Brown 1985, Bull and Jackson 1995, Thomas et al. 1979). Most of 100 woodpecker management areas were occupied by the species on five National Forest ranger districts in Oregon and Washington (Bull and Jackson 1995).

Mellen et al. (1992) questioned the adequacy of Forest Service management guidelines because home range data were based on density estimates. Based on home range and habitat use data from the Pacific Northwest, Bull and Holthausen (1993) recommended increasing the size of management areas (to 364 ha) and the number of management areas per forest. Composition of management areas should be about 75% in grand fir (ABIES GRANDIS) type, 25% old growth, the remainder mature stands; at least 50% of the stands should have > 60% canopy cover, at least 40% should remain unlogged, and the remainder should be selectively logged to leave mature stands after logging. Because of the importance of downed logs as foraging sites, Bull and Holthausen also recommended leaving > 100 logs (preferably > 38 cm diameter) per ha. To provide for nest and roost sites and foraging, they also recommended leaving > 8 snags per ha with a preference for snags > 51 cm dbh.

See Mitchell (1988) for specifications for the construction and placement of nest boxes.

Monitoring Requirements: Monitoring of populations should take place at two levels: (1) monitoring of the bird itself through banding and recapture studies, further telemetry work, nest documentation, call and drumming censuses, and use of continuing census efforts such as the BBS and CBC; and (2) monitoring of the habitat, both within and across regions. The Continuous Forest Inventory system of the U.S. Forest Service is one such monitoring mechanism, but it may not be specific enough to allow understanding of what is happening to habitats. Other approaches, some universal, some regional, some local, need to be employed.

Both types of monitoring are needed. Because the pileated is a relatively long-lived and wide-ranging species, its habitat could be adversely affected without an immediate recognition of a population crisis. If habitat parameters being monitored do not include all factors crucial to the pileated's existence, habitat monitoring alone could be futile. There is no complete understanding of the complexity of the interactions of the pileated with other components of the ecosystems in which it occurs. Bull et al. (1990) outlined approaches for monitoring on specific forests.

Management Research Needs: 1. Greater knowledge is needed regarding the relationship between arthropod habitat requirements and those of the woodpecker. Although studies have identified habitat parameters needed by the woodpecker, the nature and significance of phenological variation in key habitat components has not been adequately addressed. For example, what factors influence the longevity of a snag that is a potential cavity or food tree? What is the nature of the progression of decay and invasion by prey of the woodpecker?

2. How is nesting success and fledgling weight/health related to habitat quality? How do nestling development features and phenology found by Hoyt (1944) compare across the range of the species and the range of habitats in which the bird is found?

3. How many feeding trips per day are made to nestlings of various ages? How far do parents travel in habitats of different types to find food for nestlings?

4. To what extent could nest trees be created by killing large trees and then topping them to leave a cross section exposed at the top to encourage fungal decay? [This has been done experimentally in Oregon with explosives (Bull et al. 1981).]

5. Could artificial roost/nest cavities be created following the approach taken for red-cockaded woodpeckers (Copeyon 1990, Allen 1991)?

6. At what age do fledglings become independent of parents? How does this vary geographically, seasonally, or with habitat quality? Does survival and success of young vary with age at independence?

7. What factors influence successful dispersal of young? How far will they normally disperse?

8. Can fledglings be successfully introduced to isolated areas with small or no populations using techniques such as those employed for the red-cockaded woodpecker (DeFazio et al. 1987)?

9. How genetically variable is the species? To what extent is forest fragmentation contributing to genetic fixation within populations?

10. Numerous studies and anecdotal materials indicate that the diet emphasizes CAMPONOTUS ants and beetle larvae, with the seasonal addition of fruit and a wide array of foods when opportunity appears. However, even the most detailed of these studies do not allow good comparisons to be made and do not allow examination of diets of males versus females, adults versus juveniles, or the potential for significant geographic variation. Nor have studies of diet been linked to habitat quality. Further work is needed to clarify dietary needs and variation and relationships of diet quality to habitat quality and home range.

11. Why do pileateds enlarge the cavities of red-cockaded woodpeckers? Answers to date have been speculative and offer little in the way of behavioral observations.

Biological Research Needs: 1. While the incubation period of the species is given as 18 days by several authors (Bendire 1895, Burns 1915, Hoyt 1944, Harris 1982), these authors seem to be quoting one another with little hard data. Kilham (1979) gives the incubation period as 15-16 days. Since the incubation period of the closely related black woodpecker (DRYOCOPUS MARTIUS) is given as 12-14 days (Cramp 1985), further study with better documentation seems to be needed.

2. Why do pileated woodpeckers excavate on utility poles and houses, and how can these actions be deterred?

3. Several species of woodpeckers have been shown to have sex-specific foraging niches. Is this true for pileateds?

4. What is the key species role of the pileated? What other species are dependent on it for nest/roost cavities or for food resources. The excavations of pileated woodpeckers are often used as foraging sites by other species (Jackson, pers. obs.).

Population/Occurrence Delineation
Group Name: Woodpeckers

Use Class: Breeding
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical breeding, or current and likely recurring breeding, at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of one or more breeding pairs in appropriate habitat. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single breeding events outside the normal breeding distribution.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: The high potential for gene flow among populations of birds separated by fairly large distances makes it difficult to circumscribe occurrences on the basis of meaningful population units without occurrences becoming too large. Hence, a moderate, standardized separation distance has been adopted for woodpeckers; it should yield occurrences that are not too spatially expansive while also accounting for the likelihood of gene flow among populations within a few kilometers of each other.

Be careful not to separate a population's nesting areas and foraging areas as different occurrences; include them in the same occurrence even if they are more than 5 km apart.

Territories generally smaller than non-breeding home ranges. Territories/home ranges: Red-headed Woodpecker, summer territories 3.1-8.5 hectares (Venables and Collopy 1989), winter territories smaller (0.17 hectare to 1 hectare (Williams and Batzli 1979, Venables and Collopy 1989, Moskovits 1978); Lewis's Woodpecker, 1.0-6.0 hectares (Thomas et al. 1979); Golden-fronted Woodpecker, summer ranges larger than breeding territories, ranging from 15.4 to 41.7 hectares (average 24.9, Husak 1997); Gila Woodpecker, pair territories ranged from 4.45 to 10.0 hectares (n = 5) (Edwards and Schnell 2000); Nuttall's Woodpecker, about 65 hectares (0.8 kilometers diameter; Miller and Bock 1972); Hairy Woodpecker: breeding territories averaged 2.8 hectares, range 2.4 to 3.2 hectares (Lawrence 1967); Black-backed Woodpecker, home ranges 61-328 hectares (Goggans et al. 1988, Lisi 1988, Dixon and Saab 2000); White-headed Woodpecker, mean home ranges 104 and 212 hectares on old-growth sites and 321 and 342 hectares on fragmented sites (Dixon 1995a,b); Williamson's Sapsucker, home ranges 4-9 hectares (Crockett 1975).

Fidelity to breeding site: high in Red-headed Woodpeckers--15 of 45 banded adults returned to vicinity following year (Ingold 1991); one adult moved 1.04 kilometers between breeding seasons (Belson 1998).

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): .2 km
Inferred Minimum Extent Justification: Based on a conservatively small home range of 3 hectares.
Date: 10Sep2004
Author: Cannings, S., and G. Hammerson
Population/Occurrence Viability
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 15May1996
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Jackson, J., G. Hammerson, and F. Dirrigl, Jr.
Management Information Edition Date: 19Sep1995
Management Information Edition Author: JACKSON, J.A.; REVISIONS BY D.W. MEHLMAN
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 15May1996
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): JACKSON, JEROME, AND G. HAMMERSON

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