What’s That Noise? It’s the Pileated Woodpecker

Rat-tat-tat, rat-tat-tat…

What’s that noise coming from the woods? It might just be the tree-tapping-rat-tat-tat of the Pileated Woodpecker (pronounced ”PIL-ee-ay-ted”). This loud hammering can resemble the sound of someone drumming on a hollow log.

The Pileated Woodpecker is a truly fascinating creature. Let’s learn more…

Did You Know?

  • The Pileated Woodpecker is the largest of its species in North America. Adults can measure from 16 to 19 inches long, and when they spread their wings, they’re about 26 to 30 inches from tip to tip. That’s over two feet!
  • This bird loves to dine on ants, termites, and beetles. They hunt for these bugs in rotting stumps, logs, and dying trees.

Listen to the call of the Pileated Woodpecker.

  • The Pileated Woodpecker uses its long beak to dig deeply into the wood – its beak is almost as long as its head. The beak is also very pointy, which allows it to make holes in the wood and tear off the bark. It does this so it can get to the hiding insect.
  • The tongue of this bird is also super-long. It uses its tongue to get into tiny crevices and suck up its dinner.
  • The Pileated Woodpecker’s neck and skull is reinforced, so that all the hammering doesn’t harm its brain. The space in the Pileated Woodpecker’s cranium is also reduced, which keeps its brain from sloshing around when he’s pounding on a tree.


  • The Pileated Woodpecker lives in pine forests with large widely spaced older trees. It claims its territory by drumming on trees with its bill.
  • They can be found in Canada and in western Washington all the way down to northern parts of California and most areas of the eastern United States.

If you are walking in the woods listen closely for the drumming and the call of the Pileated Woodpecker. You’ll also want to keep your eyes peeled for rectangular holes in those dying trees. This is a sure sign that the Pileated Woodpecker was here.

What do you think of this kooky bird? Drop us a line in our comments sections. We would love to hear from you!

Categories: Beaks & Bills

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s