Friday, December 18, 2009

The Woodpeckers I Wanna See: Pileated Woodpecker

This is the beginning of my wishlist of woodpeckers I want to see.  I did a little eBird research info about locations in Idaho where I might be able to see them and a little study in my field guides.  Here is what I've discovered:

Pileated Woodpecker

Photo by Terry Gray

Top of my woodpecker priority list is the Pileated Woodpecker!  I recall seeing one as a Boy Scout at a camp near Cascade, but that was pre-birder and is therefore not on my eBird life list. 

This eBird map shows Pileated Woodpecker sightings from 2005 through 2009.  It looks like northern Idaho would be the place to have the best odds of seeing a Pileated.  They have been seen as close to where I live as the Idaho Bird Observatory as well as the forest roads in Boise County.  The Cascade area is another possibility.

I've learned that a mating pair will hold its territory year round, so going where they have been seen before increases my chances.  I read that they also that they prefer large and dead trees to excavate.  This gives me an a better idea of the habitat I should be looking in.  I should look for large rectangular or oblong excavations in the timber for signs of feeding or nesting.

Does anyone know if Pileated Woodpeckers respond to playing their calls?  It looks like they might based on a study I saw for Vancouver Island.

Do you have a surefire location to see Pileated Woodpeckers?

Here is the rest of the list that I will post about later:

Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Red-headed Woodpecker
Williamson's Sapsucker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Red-breasted Sapsucker (one Idaho Birder interview coming up jokingly mentioned that he doubts these really exist)
American Three-toed Woodpecker
Black-backed Woodpecker
Ivory-billed Woodpecker!!!


  1. You can come to our yard in Minnesota! There is a pileated on our suet feeder right now!! We are so happy every time we see one, even though it has been almost daily in the past few weeks. They will always be one of my favorite birds.

  2. @ B and B : Major jealousy. Minnesota sounds like a great place for birding!