In Scope: Pileated Woodpecker


And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly and swarm with living creatures, and let birds fly over the earth in the open expanse of the heavens. ~ Genesis 1:20

      In Scope this month is the beautiful Pileated Woodpecker. "Pileated" is pronounced "pill-ee-ated" or "pie-lee-ated" and simply means crested. The name is very appropriate, considering what an eye-catching flaming red crest this bird has ! God created the Pileated Woodpecker so unmistakably beautiful that it is easily distinguished from other woodpeckers. The Pileated Woodpecker is one of the Pacific Northwest's year round residents, so you will have an opportunity to view this gorgeous bird all year.

    Although I have seen Pileated Woodpeckers many times, last September I had an especially memorable sighting of a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers in our neighborhood. It happened one beautifully sunny morning when we started hearing a distinctive bird call. Instantly I knew it must be either a flicker or a pileated woodpecker ~ but since their calls are so similar I couldn't pick out which one it was. I began watching out the window, and sure enough, there appeared out of the woods a female Pileated who landed on a utility pole near our driveway.

    I watched her with my binoculars for some time as she scaled the pole, hammering away and pulling off long slivers of wood. These she tossed behind her and continued to hammer away in pursuit of insect prey, most likely ants. She also spent time preening methodically, taking the individual feathers on her back in her beak and smoothing them until all the feathers on her back were tweaked out in every direction, then she systematically preened them all back in their proper places.

    As I continued to watch, she flew into the neighbor's apple tree and selected an apple near the top of the tree. She began to peck on it ~ flinging larger chunks of fruit with peel behind her and finally savoring some of the white pulp on the inside of the fruit. After she had her fill she flew back to the utility pole. As I watched the female I heard another Pileated in the distance and......there he was ! Another Pileated, a male this time, flew to the same utility pole to which the female was also clinging. After following her up the pole, he turned and flew down to the ground, talking to her all this time. I lost sight of him for a moment but spotted him again in the same apple tree going after the same apple the female had just eaten on !

    I watched the pair for quite awhile until the male flew off to another neighbor's evergreen tree. That was the last I saw of the male. The female absconded with a few more bites of apple and flew back to the utility pole. Eventually she flew off across the street into the woods, but I saw her again on another pole ~ She sat on top of it, calling and calling to her mate. When apparently she received no answer she flew out of sight.

    What a special blessing it was to get to see those two and to watch them for such a long time ! I'm thankful to The Lord for every time I get to see more of His birds ~ that morning stands out to me as one of the most wonderful times I've spent watching birds and woodpeckers in particular.

    Woodpeckers are amazing birds of the forest ~ if you get the opportunity to enjoy them, its a sighting you are not soon to forget. In this month's In Scope, I'll show you some things you can do to attract woodpeckers to your yard so that you too, can enjoy these wonderful birds. But first, lets learn more about this amazing species.

Amazing Facts

    Did you know....



God Thought of It First !

Feeding and Gardening For Woodpeckers

    Even though woodpeckers primarily spend their time in the forest ~ you will enjoy visits from them if you live nearby a heavily treed area. You can add more woodpecker appeal to your yard by including some of their favorite plants in your landscape and their favorite foods at your feeding station.


    Since woodpeckers are forest birds, trees are essential in creating a woodpecker habitat. Plants producing fruit, berries, nuts and grains can also draw woodpeckers to your yard. Here is a list of plants that Pileated Woodpeckers enjoy.

Apple Trees and other fruit trees (just as Pears and Cherries)
Berry Producing plants such as:
Mulberries, etc.
Nut Trees like Hazelnut and Beechnut or an Oak Tree (for acorns)
Evergreen Trees, especially Western Hemlock and Red Cedar (Already large, established trees are best for woodpecker nesting sites but pileated woodpeckers and other birds will also enjoy smaller trees for cover.)
Deciduous Trees (Many varieties can serve as good cover for birds, including woodpeckers.)
Rotten, dead trees and snags (If you have a snag you're thinking about cutting down, think again ! Since much of the woodpeckers' diet is made up of insects like Carpenter Ants, Wood-boring Beetles and their larvae and termites, snags and rotten, dead trees are great places for woodpeckers to find these kinds of foods. They may also use a snag or dead tree as a nesting site.  Just be sure the snag is not a danger to humans and that it is strong enough to still withstand winter storms.)
Grain producing plants, especially corn


    Pileated Woodpeckers can be attracted to feeding stations that offer their favorite feeder foods. Here's a list of woodpecker pleasers that you can add to your feeding station if you aren't offering these things already ! When choosing feeders that are appropriate for woodpeckers, keep in mind that Pileated Woodpeckers are big, heavy bodied birds that need a secure place to perch and eat. The feeders you offer your woodpecker treats in should be stationary and steady, and able to withstand the weight of a woodpecker alighting on the feeder without swaying, swinging or falling down.

Suet (Many varieties, just plain suet or suet mixed with fruit and nuts are great for woodpeckers. Insect enriched suet is also a hit with woodpeckers and other birds.)
Dried Fruit and Nuts
Pileated Woodpeckers may also sample seeds and corn but suet is their most favorite.

Zoom In:  Species Profile

    The Pileated Woodpecker's scientific name is Dryocupus Pileatus.  The crow-sized woodpecker is 16 - 19 1/2 inches long.  Males and females are similar, but not exactly identical in appearance.  Males and females are mostly black with white stripes on their necks.  They also have white markings on the underside of their wings.  The male Pileated Woodpecker has a flaming red crest and forehead and a red 'mustache'.  The female looks almost the same but has a black forehead below her red crest and a black 'mustache'.

    The call of the Pileated Woodpecker is much like the Northern Flicker, but it is usually a louder and slower call.  Like most woodpeckers, they also hammer on surfaces like wood or metal, making a loud drumming noise to claim their territory or find a mate.

    The preferred habitat of the Pileated Woodpecker is deciduous or conifer forests containing some large trees.  They may also visit your yard or garden if you live nearby a woodland.  Male and female Pileated Woodpeckers are paired for life.  They also stay in the same territory year round and defend it together, although they will tolerate one of the same species being in their territory if they are only passing through.

    The nest of the Pileated Woodpecker is an excavated hole in a tree with wood chips for bedding.  The female lays 2-8 white eggs, but clutches of four are most common.  The parents incubate the eggs and raise their young together.

    The Pileated Woodpecker doesn't migrate, but stays in the same place year round.  The Pileated Woodpecker's range is across most of Southern Canada, south to the Northwestern United States as well as the Eastern U.S. to the Gulf Coast States.

    The diet of the Pileated Woodpecker is mostly insects, especially ants, flies, mosquitoes, wood boring beetles and their larvae, termites, moths, and grubs as well as fruit, seeds and nuts.


    This month I have created for you a Pileated Woodpecker coloring page in addition to a new game featuring a short poem about the autumn season.  You'll have to fill in the blanks to complete the poem !  These activities are available in a free downloadable PDF format.  Simply click here ~ download, print and have fun !


    When thinking about the message I wanted to share with you in this month's In Scope devotional, I came across Colossians 1:16-17 Amplified, which says,

    "For it was in Him that all things were created, in heaven and on earth, things seen and things unseen, whether thrones, dominions, rulers, or authorities; all things were created and exist through Him [by His service, intervention] and in and for Him.
    And He Himself existed before all things, and in Him all things consist (cohere, are held together)."

    The earth is the Lord's and everything in it is His.  God in His awesome Wisdom created everything that lives and moves and breathes, including the beautiful Pileated Woodpecker.

    Psalm 24:1 Amplified says,

    "The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness of it, the world and they who dwell in it."

    Always give God praise for the things that He has made.  Truly, we are nothing without Him, our very existence, and the existence this planet and the whole universe depends on God.  Let us not are be wise in our own minds and in our self sufficiently and pride, but remember our Maker and our dependency upon Him.

    The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 12:1 Amplified,

    "Remember [earnestly] also your Creator [that you are not your own but His property now] in the days of your youth...."

   I wanted to leave you today with this thought:  God is our Maker, and we will do well to acknowledge Him all the days of our lives.  God loves us and wants a relationship with each of us as His children and His creation.  Jesus wants us so much that He died on the cross to pay the price for our sins so that we can once again know Him like the first human beings did at the beginning of time before sin entered the world.  If you don't have a relationship with Jesus and would like to know Him, just pray this simple prayer.

    Dear Jesus, I confess that I am a sinner.  I need You to be my Savior and forgive me of all of my sins.  I believe that You died on the Cross for my sins and that You rose again and are alive today.  Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.  I invite You to live in me and I acknowledge and confess my total dependence on You as my Creator and also as my Savior and Lord.  I love You!  In Jesus' Name, Amen.

    If you just prayed that prayer, congratulations and welcome to God's family !  Be encouraged in your walk with Him and remember to read your Bible and pray daily.  As you do this, you will get to know your Savior Jesus Christ in a very personal and special way.  You'll find that He is the best friend you'll ever have.  Remember that He loves you and so do we. 

    Thanks so much for joining me for this month's In Scope.  I hope you will continue to join me each month as we discover more wonderful things about God's Creation together !

                By, Jessi Wasell