Pileated woodpecker primarily eat ants and wood boring insect larva. They do this by excavating large holes into trees and then using their long tongue to slurp up their prey. Pileated excavations are easily identified because they are typically larger than other woodpeckers and often somewhat rectangular. Frequently song birds and smaller woodpeckers will feed inside pileated excavations. They will also eat fruit, berries and nuts. They will sometimes forage on the ground through dead leaves or on fallen trees, where there are a lot of insects. If you are lucky they may even come to a suet feeder, especially during a rough winter.
Pileated begin nesting in April. The male will make a nesting cavity, usually in a dead tree, in hopes of attracting a female. It can take weeks for him to excavate the cavity. The hole to the cavity is an oblong shape and the inside is unlined except for leftover wood chips. Pileated typically have one brood per year which consists of a clutch of 3-5 eggs. Both parents incubate the eggs which take between two to three weeks to hatch. Both parents care for the young which are born helpless and without feathers. After they raise the young the pileated woodpeckers abandon the nest. They will not use the same nest again in the future. These abandon cavities provide nesting habitat for many other types of birds including wood ducks and owls. Pileated will also sometimes nest in man made nesting boxes.