One of the most difficult birds to attract to backyards in Georgia is the pileated woodpecker.  The truth of the matter is most of us have little chance of attracting one of the birds to our yards unless we live close to mature woodlands. 

       However, since this, the third largest woodpecker in the world, has such a large home range (1.5 to 3 acres), if you home is located with the home range of a pileated one just might show up to dine at your feeders.  (If you want to see if you are putting out the right foods for pileated woodpeckers, read the blog I wrote some time ago that addresses this issue.  You can access it by typing the words pileated woodpecker in the Search bubble on the right side of the blog page.)

       This begs the question, “Can I attract a pileated woodpecker with a nest box?”  The answer to this question is, “Probably not.”  Almost invariably, those that have erected nest boxes for pileated ended up providing a nesting site for birds such as the eastern screech owl, American kestrel or wood duck.

       It seems pileated woodpeckers customarily nest in dead trees.  However, even then after they spend upwards of 60 days chiseling out a nesting cavity, they will not reuse it a second year.


       Since dead trees are at a premium, the pileated woodpecker faces a housing shortage of epic proportions.  With that in mind, if you own a woodland, one of the best things you can do to encourage pileated woodpeckers to your yard to leave dead and dying trees standing whenever possible.

       I live on a bit less than three acres.  One-third of the property is wooded.  When one of the large trees growing on the backside of my land died, I left it standing.  After several years, a pair of red-headed woodpeckers nested in it.  I was hoping the tree would also be used by a pair of pileated woodpeckers too; such was not the case.  The tree eventually fell to ground and is being routinely visited by wild critters seeking ants, beetle grubs and other juicy foods.

       To date, the only pileated woodpeckers I have seen where I live have been flying overhead. Perhaps this will be the year one will drop down and dine on some of my suet.  You never know.


  1. Hi Terry
    Our pileated woodpecker pair have returned to our yard and are eating the pecans on the ground
    Happy new year
    Bill Doty

    • Bill,

      Thanks for sharing your sighting. You have added another way to attract pileated woodpeckers to a yard list — plant pecan trees.

      Happy New Year to you too!


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