How much do you know about this crow-sized bird? Test your skills on our quick quiz. Scroll past the image for the answers.
1. What shape holes do these birds make in trees?
a. Round
b. Square
c. Rectangular
d. Oval
2. True or False: Pileated woodpeckers migrate during the winter to get away from the cold weather of the Northeastern U.S.
3. What’s the biggest risk factor for the conservation of these birds?
a. Timber harvest/habitat degradation
b. Human disturbance of nests
c. Shooting/trapping
d. All of the above
4. True or False: Both males and females, adults and juveniles, have the red crest that distinguishes these birds from their woodpecker cousins.
5. How large is the pileated woodpecker’s wingspan?
a. 1 foot (30 cm)
b. 2.25 feet (70 cm)
c. 3.25 feet (100 cm)
d. 4 feet (120 cm)


Female pileated feeding her babies (Photo by edgeplot, Flickr Creative Commons)

1. What shape holes do these birds make in trees?
C, rectangular. According to Cornell’s All About Birds, these forest-dwellers dig rectangular holes to seek out their ant-filled meals. (They eat primarily carpenter ants and the larvae of wood-boring beetles, plus fruit and nuts.) Some of these holes are so large and so deep that smaller trees can’t withstand the pressure and break in half.  

2. True or False: They migrate during the winter.
False. Pileated woodpeckers are considered non-migratory birds. However, some studies have shown that populations of these red-heads increase in southern Canada and southern New England during wintertime.  
3. What’s the biggest conservation risk factor?
timber harvest/habitat degradation. These birds prefer large trees in which to nest. “Removal of large-diameter live and dead trees, of downed woody material, and of canopy closure eliminates nest and roost sites, foraging habitat, and cover,” notes All About Birds. “Forest fragmentation likely reduces population density and makes birds more vulnerable to predation.” In the early 20th century, pileated woodpeckers were hunted, though the practice has since been outlawed.
4. True or False: Both males and females, adults and juveniles, have the distinguishing red crest.
True. Both sexes of adults and young pileated woodpeckers have the red crest, though the juvenile crests are shorter. Why they have those brightly colored tops remains a mystery.
5. How large is the bird’s wingspan?
B, 2.25 feet (70 cm). The pileated woodpecker is the largest woodpecker found across most of North America (in more than 40 U.S. states and 11 Canadian provinces). The ivory-billed—believed by many to be extinct—and imperial woodpeckers are bigger. Below is a map of the pileated woodpecker’s range. 

The purple area shows where pileated woodpeckers are permanent residents. (Map from NatureServe)
How’d you do? If you answered three or more correctly, consider yourself a pileated woodpecker expert. Congrats!

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