Pileated Woodpecker–Ever Seen One?

About the size of crows, colorful pileated woodpeckers are large birds with red caps and zebra striped heads. The presence of the Steller’s jays near this pileated woodpecker in the video helps give some sense of the relative size of these handsome creatures.

They particularly like to forage for carpenter ants and beetle larva in trees leaving behind rectangular shaped holes. These birds don’t migrate. They stick around all winter long. They tend to mate for life and keep their young with them until fall.

The pileated woodpeckers are shy and generally hide from viewers though this one apparently made an exception for the videographer, Ann Constantino.



  • I love the pileated woodpecker. I’ve had one in the neighborhood for years but only see it once or twice a year. When I hear it’s distinctive call I rush to catch a glimpse.

  • awesome birds, they really can make a racket

  • To be correct, those are Steller’s Jays not Blue Jays.

  • We have had one around our place for years. Sometimes you would swear there is a person hammering on the tree with a wooden mallet.

  • We have a few on our property. Lovely birds and noisy!

  • Not too uncommon in Fieldbrook. Can confuse the call with a Flicker. Flicker= wika wika wika. Pileated=wuk wuk wuk. Heard more often than seen but an impressive bird if you do get a glimpse.

  • One hangs down at my ex’s house on Frog Pond Road in Little River. Way cool, and gorgeous. But not even nearly as noisy as the kingfishers that hung around my pond in Little Valley. Now, in Smith River, it’s owls and the occasional bonafide raven. The neighbor cut down the redwoods that ran along next to my house, and so one of the owls has taken to perching on the sideview mirror of my car. If yer ever up this way you will recognize me as the woman with owl poop all down the driver’s side of her car.

  • By far the largest one I have seen was way back in the Arcata community forest behind hsu. Saw them often in the rolling hills west of Redway. Wasnt woody woodpecker (cartoon) based on the look and sound of this bird?

  • Very important to our local Native people…

  • Humboldt Expatriate

    I have this one as a semi-regular backyard visitor down here in Sonoma Valley…she is making hay out of a half-dead cherry tree in this pic

  • In 1981, Blocksburg, there was a family of them. I have seen one of the birds here and there since but not as a flock.

  • been watching a couple of extended families of these incredible birds for about 20 years.. one of their favorite treats are poison oak berries in the fall , especially in the old growth poison oak high in the canopy, where they probably feel at home, some of the vines are over 4 inches in diameter, and at least 50 feet up into the canopy.
    [ quail eat the heck out of the berries also]they also enjoy the black berries of the plant along streamsides and springs, grapes along the river….. they dont seem to care too much for humans, as they have been donating their scalps and feathers to humans for three or four thousand years at least . its wonderful to hear them beating up the sun with their drumming, they love old alder trreess that are rotting, and thats where i see their homes, on the east face….. awaiting the early morning sunlight. they are magnificent birds . ide like to think that this local family has lived here for thousands of years….. any ideas on that?? thanks kim

  • Thank you for this description! I don’t know if the same family would have been there that long but I like the idea, too.


    Hayfork has a population of about 50 that stand about three feet tall and look exactly like woody woodpecker. The first time I saw someone peeking at me from behind a tree, wearing a bright blue suit- thought I was flashing back to a Dead show from days gone by. Sometimes you can see them near the water hole off the 10 road.

  • It is always a gift to see and hear this magnificent bird. We have them on Azalea Hill. This is a picture of my Pileated Beet Berry Salad. No birds were harmed..

  • veteransfriend

    I lived near Alderpoint in the early 70s and we had a pair that would occasionally swoop through our yard like pteradactyls laughing like Woody Woodpecker.

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