People passionate about nature

Pileated Woodpecker

Above: Pileated Woodpecker males in Winnipeg; by Garry Budyk

What does it look like?

By far Canada’s largest woodpecker, it is hard to mistake for anything else. It is largely black, with some white in the wings, neck and head, and with a prominent red crest. The call is a very loud and far-carrying “kuk kuk kuk”. In flight it can be recognized by its slow, rowing wing-beats.

Above: Pileated Woodpecker male; by Garry Budyk

Does it migrate?

Pileated Woodpeckers are year-round residents of Manitoba, but they occasionally wander from their breeding territories into previously unoccupied areas.

Above: Pileated Woodpecker female; by Dennis Swayze

Where does it live?

This woodpecker is found throughout the southern half of the province, wherever large stands of mature deciduous or mixed forest exist.

Above: Pileated Woodpecker excavation; by Peter Taylor

Where can I see it?

Anywhere in suitable habitat it is possible to see a Pileated Woodpecker. In recent decades it has expanded its range onto the prairies, along rivers and in cities, and it is now a fairly common resident in Winnipeg. Large city parks, golf courses and river-bottom forest are your best bet.

Above: Pileated Woodpecker Male near Pinawa; by Peter Taylor

Conversation Status

There are no conservation concerns for this species. As more and more trees mature, available habitat will increase in size, allowing the species to prosper.

Above: Young Pileated Woodpeckers peer from cavity; by Dennis Swayze

Did you know?

The Pileated Woodpecker provided the inspiration for Woody Woodpecker, the famous cartoon character. Where the call of Woody came from, who knows!?


Written by Rudolf Koes