The pileated woodpecker is one of the largest forest birds in the United States, being almost as large as a crow. This woodpecker has distinctive markings, mostly black, some white, and a flaming red crest that is unmistakable in the field. The male also has a streak of red on its cheek, making it easy to distinguish the sexes.
Once you have seen this bird in the wild you immediately recognize it as the model for the cartoon character Woody Woodpecker. Even the call of the pileated woodpecker is mimicked in the cartoon character.
We have a healthy population of pileated woodpeckers here in Sun City-Hilton Head, and morning walkers along the SCHH Nature Trail are often treated to the raucous call of this bird and, if lucky, a visual treat watching the bird tear into rotten logs in search of insects and their larvae. I have photographed these birds on the Nature Trail and on the boardwalk trail that spans the swamp between the Aviary neighborhood and the Hidden Cypress parking lot.