Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Pileated Woodpecker

By Skeeter & Marolyn Lasuzzo

The Pileated Woodpecker is a very conspicuous bird when seen flying through the woods. They are "crow size", around 16 to 20 inches long, with a wingspan of 27 to 30 inches. In flight, they show large white underwing patches with black overall markings. They do have a "call", but most often the sound you will hear from a Pileated Woodpecker is the drumming on a tree that sounds like the tree is being hit with a wooden mallet. The flaming red crest is also very noticeable. The male has a red crest that comes all the way down to its beak and under its chin. The female crest is red only on the top of its head. The image I have included is of a female Pileated.

While it's very difficult to get close to these elusive birds, we have had a pair frequent our back yard this year. I was able to photograph this bird by opening our sliding glass door and shooting from inside the house. This worked out great since it was snowing very heavily with a very low wind chill.

Ed. Note: The Hagerman NWR Bird Check List indicates that while the Pileated Woodpecker is present at the Refuge, it is unlikely to be seen. Birders have very occasionally spotted or heard them in the picnic area of the Goode Unit, near Dead Woman Pond, in the Big Mineral picnic area, along Meadow Pond trail and Oil Field Road. For more information, the official website for the Refuge is and for the Friends of Hagerman,

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