Pileated Woodpecker

The pileated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) is a large, mostly black woodpecker native to North America. An insectivore, it inhabits deciduous forests in eastern North America, the Great Lakes, the boreal forests of Canada, and parts of the Pacific Coast. Females have a red crest like the males but don’t have the red cheek stripe. This specimen and his mate were working just outside my living room window.

Technical Details

Composite: No
EF 200-400mm @ 400mm; f/4 @ 1/250 sec, ISO 800


Nice catch, Bob. I heard one of my local pair hammering away this morning. I recently read somewhere that the spring hammering they do is part of mating rituals and takes the place of a song that other birds use for the same purposes.

Thank you, Ms. Smith. On this occasion the male was earnestly searching out food. There is a huge pile of fresh chips on the ground below him. The holes you see in the lower right corner of the image were excavated that morning. I did not capture that activity because his back was to the camera. I did attempt to capture his efforts on the hole immediately in front of him, but his head movement was so fast that in order to capture the action my ISO was so high that all those captures had excessive noise, especially in the dark feathers and out-of-focus background. I could purge the background and enhance the bokeh, but the feathers became a soft mess. They habitually make about four strikes , throw the loosened chip over their shoulder, (below) then stop briefly in the pose above. It was a matter of timing to get the image above when he was still.

1 Like

This is a really nice image. I love the fact that it shows its excavations on the tree trunk as well.

Thank you, Charles. Indeed, these are attractive birds. The excavations were all from that day. Very busy. This resident pair often visit this 20+ foot retention tree, often too high up the trunk to obtain a good eye-level photo. This was a fortuitous opportunity.