An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Pileated Woodpeckers Foraging For Last of Wild Grapes

12-17-18 pileated woodpecker and grapes IMG_7731

Carpenter Ants and wood-boring beetle larvae are the mainstay of the Pileated Woodpecker’s diet.  Long slivers of wood in trees and logs are removed in order to expose ant galleries, creating large rectangular excavations.  The woodpecker’s long, pointed, barbed tongue and its sticky saliva enable it to catch and extract ants from the ants’ tunnels.

While ants and beetle larvae are consumed year-round, fruits and nuts are eaten when available. A study that took place in the Northeast found seasonal shifts in primary food items: fruit in fall, Carpenter Ants in winter, wood-boring beetle larvae in early spring, and a variety of insects in summer.

Naturally Curious is supported by donations. If you choose to contribute, you may go to and click on the yellow “donate” button.

12 responses

  1. In the early 80s Jennifer and I partook in a boots inventory on Beal Island in ME. At that time pileateds were deemed rare. I happened to see one. Everybody got excited. Now we have a few right here at the farm. They remind me of cartoon characters.


    December 19, 2018 at 8:19 am

    • Cindy

      I believe Woody the Woodpecker was based on a pileated woodpecker. 😁👍

      December 20, 2018 at 7:38 am

  2. Alice Pratt

    Another beautiful photo! The bird looks like it has a hat on it’s head

    December 19, 2018 at 8:28 am

    • Alice Pratt

      ….that’s a female?

      December 19, 2018 at 8:33 am

  3. Kathie Fiveash

    Beautiful Mary! For some reason it reminded me of this from Darwin, the famous last paragraph of Origin of Species: “It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank…..from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.” Maybe it was because of the article in this morning’s NY Times about the crisis in the Galapagos. Such frightening times.

    December 19, 2018 at 8:50 am

    • Alice Pratt

      Oh, no! I’ll try to find that article online.

      December 19, 2018 at 9:27 am

      • Alice Pratt

        Very interesting and a quite sad and worrisome article 😥

        December 19, 2018 at 9:43 am

  4. Suzanne

    I have seen pileateds eating sumac berries too.

    December 19, 2018 at 9:44 am

  5. There’s been a female visiting my winterberries recently. I was surprised to learn that fruit is in their diet, too. Always learning!

    December 19, 2018 at 5:36 pm

    • Alice Pratt


      December 19, 2018 at 5:46 pm

      • My camera doesn’t have a long enough lens and if I tried to go outside it would fly away. They are very shy!

        December 19, 2018 at 6:24 pm

  6. Alice Pratt

    It’s interesting how a lot of the birds get used to me being closeby…they look and see it’s me and fly to get seed…even to the feeder suction cupped to the kitchen sink window…or when I sit on the steps, very close to the feeder…

    December 20, 2018 at 7:52 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s