Family Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Least Concern

Pileated Woodpecker (Hylatomus pileatus)


French: Grand Pic German: Helmspecht Spanish: Picamaderos norteamericano

Picus pileatus


, 1758,

America = South Carolina, USA


Closely related to H. lineatus (with fuscipennis) and H. schulzii. Little geographical variation, mostly clinal: proposed races picinus (British Columbia) and floridanus (Florida) considered not to differ significantly from, respectively, abieticola and nominate. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • H. p. abieticola (Bangs, 1898) – S British Columbia E across S Canada to Nova Scotia, S to NW & CE California, C Idaho, W Montana, C Saskatchewan, SE Iowa and about Virginia.
  • H. p. pileatus (Linnaeus, 1758) – SE USA from approximately Illinois E to Virginia and S to SE Texas and Florida.
  • Descriptive notes

    40–48 cm; 250–340 g (abieticola). Large. Male has buffish nasal tufts, bright red forehead, crown and long crest, narrow white stripe behind eye, black... read more


    Single or repeated “wuk”, “cuk” or “cac” notes, particularly in... read more


    Coniferous and deciduous forest, and mixed forest, from rather open deciduous to dense mature... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly ants, principally carpenter ants (Camponotus), but Crematogaster and Formica also recorded; beetle larvae... read more


    Laying from Apr in S, May–Jun in N and at higher altitudes; courtship from Feb. Displays include crest-raising, wing-spreading, also... read more


    Chiefly resident. Possibly some short-distance movement or wandering; in montane areas may move to... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Not very common, and generally rather local. Estimates of density in first half of 20th century include 1 pair/67 ha in Florida and 1 pair/43–... read more

    Recommended citation

    Winkler, H. & Christie, D.A. (2020). Pileated Woodpecker (Hylatomus pileatus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 24 January 2020).