Pileated Woodpecker, the ABA’s 2021 Bird of the Year!
by Frank Izaguirre
Where did you see your first Pileated Woodpecker? In the deep woods of a protected forest? Within the dense cypress strands of a southern swampland? Or maybe in a parking lot, like where I saw mine.
The Pileated Woodpecker—quite common in the southeastern United States, increasing in other parts of the East, present throughout much of southern Canada, and uncommon in some parts of the West—has adapted to people and disturbed forests as it increases its presence in urban areas. This large and hardy bird can be at turns cryptic, silently working tree trunks and logs while disappearing in the dim light of the understory, or conspicuous, unmistakably gliding through a wooded ravine with its trademark cackle. Its huge form and far-reaching laughter are often the highlight of a day’s birding excursion. The ABA is proud that the Pileated Woodpecker, emblem of both the wild woods and the adaptability of birds to anthropogenically altered spaces, is our 2021 Bird of the Year.
We see these qualities too in Juan Travieso’s entrancing 2021 Bird of the Year art. The Pileated’s profile is spliced with stark red and fuchsia lines, which blend into its crest and mustache stripe as if they were diagnostic marks. The bird is overlaid on digital cubes, speaking to its, and maybe all birds’, merger with digital identities: we think of birds through our online understanding of them. The red vine leaves and pink flowers draped behind the bird add an almost pop sensibility, perhaps both a reinforcement and reevaluation of the Pileated Woodpecker’s iconicism.
The most intriguing element of the image may be its energy. The bird gazes back at us, ready to leap from the branch and heave its massive wings, while the lines seem to draw it forward and out of the frame. Where will this bird go next? Where does this bird take you? It might not be where you first saw a Pileated Woodpecker.
Happy New Year and Happy Birthday to me. Happy I have found you!
Same! Spotted also in Butler county, Pa. Cranberry Township and just a few weeks ago. We have heard then seen him in the grove behinds us. A lovely sight and sound on a gray day. Eager to learn more about birds.
We are lucky to have 2 of these birds visit our yard all the time. I am in Butler, Pa. just north of pittsburgh. They sound like a jungle movie when they holler. They love suet and are very aware of the surroundings and watch while they eat. Good choice for bird of the year.
I love birding in Butler County–what great yard visitors you have!
We have them visit our yard here in Eastern Tennessee regularly.
This is an inspired choice that received an instant “Yes !!” from me when I saw the announcement. As Frank has written, this is a wonderful, wild bird that is regularly seen in towns and backyards in Nova Scotia.
We see them in our yard in Woodstock, IL. Beautiful bird
The Pileated Woodpecker is our community’s mascot. Reston, VA is known for this beautiful bird. We even have Pileated Woodpecker inspired artistic bike racks at our local nature house! I always laugh when one gets on my suet feeder because they’re so big, they can’t really bend to get much suet. (It’s a small one designed for the downies)…The glare in the bird’s eye is priceless as he/she tries to figure out how to get some.
I just saw my first one of the year!!!! There is one that lives near my home in KY and he paid me a quick, very quick visit this morning! I was thrilled!
This beautiful bird has made an appearance two days straight now in some Sumac trees on our property. I’ve seen them in the deep woods but never come out in the open. I wonder if it has something to do with a huge hawk that seems also to appear at the same time watching from a distant tree. Obviously not nesting season.
This is a beautiful short video on a pileated nesting season in north hills area of Allegheny County in sw PA.
It’s always magical to see one of these! (NY Adirondacks) They remind me of some sort of dinosaur and for that I give them great respect. So Special!
[…] year list additions were a Brown Creeper in a chickadee flock and several Pileated Woodpeckers, the 2021 ABA Bird of the Year. With that being said, the local Pine Grosbeak flock was more than sufficient to keep me […]
My favorite bird ! Used to live and work in Bothell WA and had what appeared to be a family group show up at the double cake long prop suet feeder for a few years. I almost always knew when they’d be showing up because they’d announce their arrival with loud cackling before they landed on the feeder.
Wow I just noticed a Pileated Woodpecker From my Sunroom Window Pecking away On My Tree, I just laughed to myself and Said Wow That’s a Big Woodpecker Bird, First time ever viewing one in My area, Than it Darn on me, As i went out on my Deck a few weeks ago, I noticed a Gaping Hole in a few of my Trees and I asked What in the world happened to these Trees!! I never figured it was a Pileated Woodpecker I took my cellphone and Tried To video from the sunroom window Without disturbing the Woodpecker it… Read more »
[…] American Bird Association, on its BOTY, including some stunning artwork by Juan Travieso’s with stark red and fuchsia lines. For more, go to aba.org/2021-bird-of-the-year-pileated-woodpecker-dryocopus-pileatus/ […]
Sightings in our yard in Hayward Wisconsin!
At our feeders
It wasn’t my first Pileated, but My wife and I went to a resort in central Ontario for a weekend to celebrate our 25th anniversary on March 31st. I always take my binoculars with me, so I was having a quick morning coffee before going out for a hike, when I heard this tremendous hammering, like someone was taking a jackhammer to the cottage we were in. I went outside to look, and right beside the cottage was a large pine tree, and this woodpecker was excavating a cavity, but excavating was an understatement. There must have been a soft… Read more »
In Maggie Valley, North Carolina the old timers call them wood hens. Beautiful birds. Have seen a few on the mountain where I live .
I saw my first Pileated Woodpecker in the 1980s on the Mendocino coast of California. Since then, I have gotten several photos of this amazingly beautiful species…
I saw my first pileated woodpecker 2 days ago, of course the year of the pileated woodpecker! I was at my great grandmother’s funeral (she was a bird watcher) and went to my grandma’s house after and saw it right before I left!
[…] I have been looking for one these woodpeckers for over two years. Last fall I saw one, but by the time I had trained my camera it was gone. Two weeks ago, at the lake I spied one along the lane picking through a log on the ground and then saw another on a tree. I didn’t have my camera, but I was able to capture both with my phone camera. The following Sunday I recorded the video below as a pair of them worked the forest in search of food. it is the ABA Bird of the Year… Read more »
The Pileated woodpecker has always been on my bird “bucket list” for 30 years, I lived in Wisconsin and heard them at my home about 40 South of Milwaukee and at my cabin in the great Northwoods in Price county. I moved to TX 18 years ago and driving down a busy road one day I saw him landed on an electric power in front of me, I stopped my car amidst blasting horns and tried to capture an image but he moved round and round there pole I couldn’t do it and the people behind me were getting quite… Read more »
Pileated Woodpeckers! I had a courting pair in my yard last year and got GREAT video… I was very close, they continued on for about an hour. Hope you will watch. I am an amateur.
Pileated Woodpeckers Bird Behavior: Courtship by Anne Hall
Just saw my first Pileated Woodpecker!! I’m cycling the entire Natchez Trace Parkway from Natchez, MS to Nashville, TN. I’ve been birding along the way, and I heard and watched a stunning Pileated Woodpecker during my walk around the woods by Jeff Busby Campground in Ackerman, MS. Thrilling! 🚲
Ellen, oh, that is so wonderful!! Congratulations, and enjoy your great adventure!