Female Pileated Woodpecker


I pulled up to this beautiful gal in my birding mobile (golf cart) while cruising around Everglades City.  I had seen a male here at this pole before.  They’ve both been busy excavating a new nest hole.


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Pileated Woodpecker (female)


The male Pileated Woodpecker is the first to begin excavating a nest cavity and does most of the work, but the female will help as it nears completion.

Their entrance hole is oblong rather than round like most other woodpecker holes, and they don’t line their nests with any material except for leftover wood chips.

The nest construction usually takes 3-6 weeks, and nests are rarely reused in later years.  Cavity depth can range from 10-24 inches.


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Pileated Woodpecker (female)


Hmmmm….she looks up.  Maybe her neighbor is saying something?


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Pileated Woodpecker (female)


This pole is also someone else’s home.


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Osprey nest using recycled satellite dish on same pole


I wonder if the Osprey are tired of the pound, pound, pound of the woodpecker’s beak.  πŸ˜‰



39 thoughts on “Female Pileated Woodpecker

  1. Wow – just beautiful, Donna! This is nearly a nemesis bird for me. Wonder if the Pileateds are looking for extra protection on the Osprey pole. πŸ™‚

  2. Is that small hole on the side created by the birds themselves, e.g. for better ventilation of the nest, or was it simply there beforehand? If it was there beforehand, why didn’t they start making the nest there to save some work? Or, do they always make the hole face a certain direction? (Sorry for all the questions, but I’m fascinated!)

    • Great questions! The small hole was probably there from before, either done by them or another woodpecker, maybe to look for insects. There have been a lot of studies on why this woodpecker uses utility poles for nests, as it is costly to the company. This pole actually had another nest hole started up higher, but then this one was started. Sometimes they’ll start a nest, trying to determine if it’s right, then possibly restart another one on that same pole or another pole or tree altogether. Maybe the Mrs doesn’t approve? πŸ˜‰ Direction location I couldn’t find info on, and I myself have seen them on all sides of the pole or tree. So thinking that doesn’t matter? Here’s the old theory on the love of utility poles, they thought maybe the poles vibrated from the electric currents and the woodpeckers were drilling into them thinking they heard bugs. That theory has long since been dismissed. πŸ™‚

  3. Wow, neat observations, Donna. It is interesting that they have chosen a pressure-treated pole. That must displease the utility, but there are probably not enough real pines around to nest in.

    • Thanks Eliza! I read that studies believe this woodpecker picks utility poles primarily for the great 360 visibility around their nest cavity. (just like the Osprey!) They also like a hard-surface wood for a nest, although do desire a softer interior wood once excavation begins. And you’re right, it is costly to the utility companies. They still have not come up with a way to stop this woodpecker’s love for their poles!

  4. Very cool! We’ve had Pileateds pounding on our power pole, but they’ve never built a nest cavity. Love the repurposed satellite dish! I bet that pair you watched over for two seasons might have been aided by the concave shape given their less than perfect nest building skills! πŸ˜‰

  5. Amazing photos of the pileated woodpecker! Wow! I have never been that close to one, so it’s great to see your beautiful photos. Thanks also for the info on the nest.

    • Thank you, Susan! I pulled right up alongside the pole in my golf cart, sun behind me, and just shot from my seat, without her flying off. I felt so lucky to be so close!

  6. Thanks for striking photos, Also had no idea of the uniqueness of their construction and use!!!

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