Pileated woodpeckers have strong, stout bills that they use to chop right to the center of the tree. How do they do it? Their brains are encased in air and their skulls are fortified to sustain the pounding without shattering. They also have sharp claws that enable them to prop themselves on tree trunks, much like a teeter totter.
They open up cavities in trees that birds with weaker bills would not have made. These cavities are feeding sites where the woodpecker will search for tasty insects. This process of creating cavities speeds up the decay process as they create places for fungal organisms and insects to nest and break down the wood. By-products of this decay enrich the soil. Other birds and animals like raccoons may also make their home in holes created by pileated woodpeckers.