A pair of pileated woodpeckers pecking an ash tree

One day last month I was sitting in my dining room helping one of my kids with schoolwork, when I happened to hear what sounded like a woodpecker pecking. I glanced out the window of the dining room and saw a pileated woodpecker couple perched on opposite sides of an ash tree at the edge of the forest behind my house. 

A male (left) and female (right) pileated woodpecker pair, perched on a dying ash tree
A male (left) and female (right) pileated woodpecker pair, perched on a dying ash tree.

According to Cornell University's All About Birds website, pileated woodpecker pairs stay together year-round, and are territorial, except for in the winter. During the winter they will share their territory with other woodpeckers. I've seen these two flying around at the edge of my forest but didn't realize that I was most likely seeing the same two birds each time.

A female pileated woodpecker perched on a dying ash tree.
A female pileated woodpecker pecking on a dying ash tree.

The male and female pileated woodpeckers are similar in size. The easiest way to differentiate between a male and female pileated woodpecker is the red "mustache" stripe on the cheeks of the males. 

A male pileated woodpecker perched on a dying ash tree
A male pileated woodpecker perched on a dying ash tree.

Pileated woodpeckers are roughly the size of a crow. Like other woodpeckers, they peck at trees to get the insects in the tree. In all three photos you can see how woodpeckers, over time, have removed portions of the bark on the ash tree to get to the insects underneath.

Photographs taken on November 18, 2021, at Syracuse, New York.

Comments

  1. Really wonderful images Tom! I don't think we have this type arund here, at least I have never seen one. Neat that the males have a "mustache"! Thanks for the info on them as well, very interesting.

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