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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Pileated Woodpecker -- Dryocopus pileatus

RANGE: Resident from southern and eastern British Columbia, southwestern Mackenzie, central Manitoba, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia south through Alberta, Washington, south-central Idaho, western Montana, and Oregon to northern California, west to eastern Dakotas, Missouri, and Oklahoma and south to east-central Texas, the Gulf Coast, and southern Florida.

STATUS: Locally common but has become less common in areas where extensive agricultural or logging practices have eliminated large tracts of old-growth forests.

HABITAT: Generally limited to mature coniferous, deciduous, and mixed forests with large, dead trees. Prefers woodlands near water.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Large dead trees for nesting and feeding.

NEST: Usually excavates nest holes in dead tree trunks or dead limbs of living trees. Generally requires trees greater than 15 inches dbh for nest and roost cavities and generally uses ponderosa pine snags greater than 20 inches dbh. Nests in a variety of tree species, including beech, cottonwood, yellow-poplar, birch, oak, hickory, maple, hemlock, pine, ash, elm, basswood, and aspen.

FOOD: Consumes a diet that is about 70 percent insects, with ants, especially carpenter ants and wood-boring beetles, predominating. Also consumes other insects, some wild fruits, mast, and seeds of sumac.

REFERENCES: Beal 1911, Bull and Meslow 1977, Conner et al. 1975, DeGraff et al. 1980, Forbush and May 1955, Hoyt 1957, Johnsgard 1979.

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