The habitat of the pileated woodpecker is temperate forests throughout North America, especially mature forests with large trees and proximity to water. They are found from Florida on up to Canada, though the bulk of their territory is in the southern United States.
Pileated woodpeckers prefer forests with decaying wood available for excavating. They feed upon insects that live in rotten trees. Other than the requirement of rotten wood, they live everywhere from swamps to the edges of suburbs, if sufficiently large woodlots are available. Pileated woodpeckers can be found living among conifers, deciduous trees or in mixed forests of both types.
The pileated woodpecker used to be common in the eastern United States, but its territory was reduced by forests being cleared. Besides the East Coast, they can also be found in parts of California, Washington and Oregon.