This is a really big bird, a prehistoric looking woodpecker at least as big as a crow. It has a bright red crest (total for males, partial for females), thin neck and big head, a chunky and big beak, black and white striped face and mostly black back feathers. Males also have a red “moustache.” In flight it undulates and displays black and white pattern under the wing.
The pileated woodpecker excavates distinctive oblong holes in dead trees. It cries “cakcakcak” in an accelerating and rising and then falling cadence. It also drums loudly. It is primarily a “bark forager” and carpenter ants are its main food.
What brings it to the SBG?
Food, nesting sites. It depends on dead trees of considerable girth.
When can I see it?
Year-round, but it seems to be more visible in fall and spring.