Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wild about Woodpeckers

This post is all about the woodpecker. About six or seven species of woodpeckers are found in our area, but only five of those have been spotted at my feeders.
The Woodpecker is pretty much the top bird at the feeder's. All other species of birds give way when a woodpecker flies in to feed.

The largest and most uncommon is the Pileated Woodpecker. Nearly as large as a crow it is the most impressive of the Woodpeckers. They are very shy and wary and seem to detect the slightest movement when I try to get a photo of them. On a rare occasion they will come to the suet feeder, but most of the time they forage for carpenter ants, nuts, berries, and other insects..

"Where's the Peanut Butter?"
Occasionally I spread peanut butter in this hole and that is what he is looking for. They can clean out the entire hole just as an appetizer.
 The damage they can do to trees, utility poles or even buildings is unbelievable!

Another woodpecker that visits frequently is the Yellow-Shafted Flicker. Flickers are unusual among other North American Woodpeckers in that their general coloration is brown rather than black and white. This one is a male as you can tell by his black mustache. Unlike most species of woodpeckers, Flickers forage mostly on the ground. Flickers are also one of the few Woodpeckers that migrate.

The Flicker has stunning plumage in both color and pattern. I think they are the most beautiful of all the woodpeckers.

The next few Woodpeckers are some of the more common ones found in our area. This one is a female Red-Bellied Woodpecker and they visit the feeders all year long. If you live in the eastern range of the U.S. it isn't hard to attract them. They even eat the grape jelly I put out in the summer for the Baltimore Orioles.

These two pictures show a male Red-Bellied and you can see the red on his belly.

The next two Woodpeckers are very similar in their coloration and best told apart by their size. The Hairy Woodpecker is larger (top photo) and has a longer bill,  while the Downy is smaller (bottom photo) and has a short bill. The Hairy is a shyer bird and likely to fly away when we are filling the feeders, while the Downy is bolder and will come to the feeder even when I am standing a few feet away.
Female Downy

Male Downy

Last but certainly not least is a Red-Headed Woodpecker. Unfortunately I have not had any success attracting this beautiful bird. I have seen one twice in all the years I lived here but it never stayed around much to my dismay...Sigh.   I do see them at my in-laws which is where I took this photo. 
Which species of Woodpeckers is your favorite?


  1. You really caught some wonderful photos of them and nice information.

    Cher Sunray Gardens

  2. Beautiful! I've never had the priveledge of seeing a Pileated Woodpecker! I love them all!

  3. Pearl, wow. Your talent at photographing birds is really great. Do you use a closeup/zoom type of lens? We are really enjoying the woodpeckers here in Northern Illinois as well. They began visiting us as soon as we put suet out last fall. We really only get 3 types - Downy (most frequent), Hairy, and Red-Bellied. They really brighten up the winter and we are so glad to have them visit us.

  4. Fabulous pictures, Pearl. We have the same woodpeckers here and all of them --except the Hairy--come to our feeders. I've only seen an Hairy Woodpecker around here a few times --but we have lots of Downys.

    Love your photos. Thanks!

  5. Such good pictures, Pearl. I like all of them, however I get really excited when I get to see the pileated and the red-headed woodpecker because their sightings are so rare. I see the pileated about once or twice a year pecking at some old tree trunks looking for ants and the red-headed woodpecker also only appears about once or twice a year. The red-headed are so skittish that one little movement and they're gone and they won't be back either. I've tried getting a picture, but they always see the camera even when I'm really sly about it. I'm in need of a camera like yours so I can get closeup pictures. Had dinner this evening with David and Irene, David Lee and Leona, and Jr. and Elsie. Afterwards we played golf at Gladys and Paul's house. David's had small groups. Miss you

  6. Pearl,

    Oh my, can't pick a favorite woodpecker, just can't.

    Great blog, wonderful photos I added you to my blog roll.