Several writers have documented the decline of this species with the clearing of forests during the 1800’s and their recent increase as the forests have grown back.
It is now resident across the forested portions of Ontario. Small woodlots will not support these big birds: they require at least 100 acres of forest, with dead trees left standing, to satisfy their needs.
This is a crow-sized woodpecker, mainly black but with a prominent white flash in the wings in flight and a fiery red crest.
Males have red mustache marks:
These are black in females:
When feeding they sound like someone shingling a roof and slivers about the size of a finger come away at each peck so that big oblong holes are made rapidly in their search for the carpenter ants on which they feed.
They also strip the bark off dead trees in search of beetle larvae. Their drumming signals are distinctive, loud and resonant with a characteristic crescendo and diminuendo. They also utter a flicker-like “kyuk-kyuk-kyuk:.
Dr. J. Murray Speirs
What beautiful birds they are! Last summer when I was walking along our cottage road I heard hammering and thought someone was working on a new roof. Then I saw the pileated woodpecker pecking away on a tree near the side of the road. Fortunately a neighbour was jogging along the road and stopped. He had his cell phone and kindly took a picture of the woodpecker before she flew away. (no moustache).