Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)

Order: Piciformes,  Family: Picidae

Appearance/Behavior: The pileated by far is the largest woodpecker (40 -49 cm) in the northeastern United States. Resembling Woody Woodpecker, when perched on a tree trunk, this bird appears almost entirely black, except for a prominent red crest (blue arrow) and some white plumage on the face and neck (red arrow).  In flight, white wing plumage is apparent. The male is distinguished from the female by an additional red patch near its chin.  This woodland species excavates large holes as it forages for wood-boring insects and constructs its nest cavity.

Relative Frequency of Visitation in Study: Very rarely encountered in the study.  In fact, its two encounters to date did not involve a bird on a compost pile per se, but on a nearby tree trunk or in flight above pile.  These are likely incidental encounters, and not directly related to the compost pile.

Seasonal Activity: Potentially year-round.

Daily Activity:  Strictly diurnal.

Similar Species:  The pileated woodpecker’s large size and prominent red crest distinguish it from the two other woodpecker species seen directly at the compost piles.  The much smaller downy woodpecker has a central white patch on its back and a white belly, both of which are lacking in the pileated.  The pileated also lack the red-bellied woodpecker’s ladder-back pattern and light-colored chest.

Well-defined Image: