North Carolina Mountain Birds: Pileated Woodpecker

Our 12 Months of Birding series continues this month with the Pileated Woodpecker. The Pileated Woodpecker is a large bird who lives year-round in Pisgah National Forest that surrounds the Inn on Mill Creek. In particular, they love the woods just behind our fruit orchard and if you sit on the swing at the Inn for a little while, you can often hear their bold, striking calls, which match their striking looks. (The Cornell Lab of Ornithology defines the Pileated Woodpecker’s call as “whinnying”.)

If you’re at the Inn during the afternoon, chances are likely you will hear the Pileated Woodpeckers. However, if you’re fortunate, you may also see them, gallivanting around the woods around us. You might get a quick opportunity to snap a photo, like the one above that we took last March of one Pileated Woodpecker on a tree trunk and another in flight. But you have to be quick, because they’re not keen on having their photos taken.

Pileated Woodpeckers have black bodies, red heads, and wide white stripes going from their mouths down their long necks. Here’s a photo from Wikipedia that shows their markings:


As woodpeckers, they, of course, like to peck at wood looking for insects to nibble on, and the loud drumming sound is a common one in our neighborhood. We count Pileated Woodpeckers among the homebuilders of the forest — the holes they hammer into downed logs and dead trees become homes for other birds, including the Tufted Titmouse.

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