Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub


    Pileated Woodpeckers (Dryocopus pileatus) cause damage to Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis) cavity trees in the form of cavity enlargement or other excavations on the surface of the pine tree. However, it is not known whether Pileated Woodpeckers excavate more frequently on Red-cockaded Woodpecker cavity trees than on noncavity trees or how stand structure is related to the frequency of Pileated Woodpecker excavation. Also, it is unclear whether the cavity itself provides the stimulus to Pileated Woodpeckers to excavate or whether the presence of Red-cockaded Woodpeckers and their activities are attracting them. We surveyed all of the Red-cockaded Woodpecker cavity trees (n = 202) and 110 control trees in the loblolly (Pinus taeda)-shortleaf (P. echinata) pine habitat on the Angelina National Forest for recent Pileated Woodpecker excavation and found that approximately 7.4% of all cavity trees were damaged while no control trees showed any evidence of Pileated Woodpecker damage. The rate of Pileated Woodpecker excavation was negatively associated with hardwood midstory height and density. Pileated Woodpeckers appeared to focus most of their excavations on Red-cockaded Woodpeckers cavity entrances. WC suggest that Pileated Woodpeckers may be attracted to Red-cockaded Woodpecker cavity trees. especially the cavity, and that midstory removal used to improve Red-cockaded Woodpecker habitat may increase the incidence of damage to the cavity trees by Pileated Woodpeckers in the current fragmented landscape.

    Publication Notes

    • You may send email to to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Saenz, Daniel; Conner, Richard N.; McCormick, James R. 2002. Are pileated woodpeckers attracted to red-cockaded woodpecker cavity trees? Wilson Bulletin. 114(3): 291-296.

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page