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Pileated Woodpecker

Dryocopus pileatus

Pileated Woodpecker. Photo:Peter Mirejovsky
Pileated Woodpecker. Photo:Peter Mirejovsky

Even the most experienced birders find delight in spotting the majestic pileated woodpecker. Measuring up to 47 cm tall, this species is by far, the largest and most striking of any Canadian species of woodpecker. The pileated requires mature forest that contain some dead trees, known as snags. It is in these trees that the pileated excavates its impressive cavities used for nesting and roosting. The nesting cavities are impressive indeed, being up 20 cm wide! Because woodpeckers like the pileated abandon many of their excavations holes, they inadvertently create high quality nesting habitat for many other species, including wood ducks, goldeneyes, as well as other species of birds, mammals, and reptiles. Other services provided by the pileated woodpecker is the consumption of large numbers of wood-boring insects that damage commercially important trees. Clearly, dead trees are crucial habitat for the pileated woodpecker. In turn, the pileated woodpecker is crucial to the survival of numerous other species. Perhaps the pileated woodpecker in Canada serves as a keystone species, by allowing the existence of a diversity of other bird species.

Map of Pileated Woodpecker in Canada
Distribution of Pileated Woodpecker in Canada

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