Pileated in the Parking Lot

Pileated woodpecker adult with young
Pileated woodpecker adult with young


Thanks to the mature hardwood trees that remain around CWF headquarters in Kanata, Ontario, we have a variety of birds that come to feed and live. One is the huge pileated woodpecker – Canada’s largest woodpecker!

I hadn’t seen or heard them in the trees that surround our parking lot since the early autumn, but Aaron Kylie, CWF Publications Manager, caught site of one on Friday. I could tell he was impressed by its size, as are most people that see this impressive insect eater. They average 17 to 18 inches long (43 – 45 cm) – a whole lot larger than its cousins which are anywhere from 6 to 9 inches (15 – 22 cm), although the northern flicker comes closer at 13 inches (33 cm). Their vocalizations are loud, as is their drumming which can be heard from far away and their holes are a vertical rounded rectangle.

Help support these remarkable birds by keeping mature trees on your property – even dead or dying ones called ‘snags’. Follow these links to learn how to recognize pileated woodpecker holes, attract them to your area, how to keep snags safe and other neat stuff.

Sarah Coulber

Author: Sarah Coulber

Sarah is an Education Specialist at the Canadian Wildlife Federation. She writes about the benefits and ‘how-to’s’ of wildlife-friendly gardening, coordinates content for the Gardening for Wildlife web section, co-manages the wildlife-friendly demonstration gardens at CWF headquarters and assists Canadians looking to achieve similar results with their own properties.

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