Jim Williams has been watching birds and writing about their antics since before "Gilligan's Island" went into reruns. Join him for his unique insights, his everyday adventures and an open conversation about the birds in your back yard and beyond.

PILLY-ay-ted or PIE-lee-ay-ted?

Posted by: Jim Williams under Bird biology, Bird identification Updated: February 9, 2012 - 9:49 PM

 The name of that large woodpecker is correctly pronounced PIE-lee-ated. Not PILLY-ay-ted. So says birder Gary Felton of Kingwood, West Virginia. His comment was posted to the national birding list BirdChat on Thursday. Here's why, he writes: "The top of a bird's head from bill to the rear of the skull is the pileum, emphasis on the first syllable (as in apple pie), giving PIE-leeum. Retaining this root pronounciation makes the woodpecker's name PIE-lee-ay-ted. For good measure, he adds that the Parula Warbler is pronounced Par-u-la, not Pa-rula, no reason given.

Mr. Felton's reasoning for the woodpecker does carry the strength of logic. Assuming he's is correct, I've been wrong on both names for a long time. It's gonna be tough to change. 

Below, a PIE-lee-ated Woodpecker, aka PILLY-ay-ted.

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