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Woodpeckers Guide

woodpeckers guide

Woodpeckers are one of the fascinating species on Earth, residing mostly in tropical forests. They have some unique adaptations that allow them to peck on trees all day without getting a headache!

In this guide, we will discuss everything you need to know about woodpeckers. We will cover their diet, habitat, behavior, great diversity, and more.

Woodpeckers Characteristics

Woodpeckers are a popular bird to watch because they are unique and interesting. They can be found in most parts of the United States.

1. Species and Habitat

There are about 200 species of woodpeckers around the world. Woodpecker habitats vary depending on the species. Some live in forests; others live in grasslands or deserts.

2. Unique traits

One of the most distinguishing features of woodpeckers is their beaks. Their beaks are specially adapted to pecking on trees. They have a chisel-like tip that allows them to pierce tree bark without hurting themselves.

They also have a strong grip that helps them hold onto branches while they peck.

These birds have specially adapted bills and tongues that allow them to extract insects from tree bark.

Woodpeckers also have strong muscles in their necks and heads that help them resist the forces of acceleration when they peck.

3. Intelligence

In addition to their physical adaptations, woodpeckers are also known for their remarkable intelligence. They can learn how to open complex locks and even use tools.

Woodpeckers make great pets and are very tame birds. They can learn to do tricks, such as picking up small items with their beaks. If you want a pet woodpecker, it is best to get one from a breeder, as they can be hard to find in the wild.

Types of Woodpeckers in the United States

There are a total of 23 species of woodpeckers that can be found in the United States. The three most common woodpeckers are:

  • The Red-headed Woodpecker is typically about nine inches long and has a redhead, black wings, and a white stripe down its back
  • The Hairy Woodpeckers are about 12 inches long and have a mostly black body with some white markings on their wings. They also have bushy tails
  • The Northern Flicker has a brown feather with a black-scalloped plumage. It is a handsome and large bird, a bit larger than most woodpecker types

Other woodpeckers include the Pileated Woodpecker, the American Three-toed Woodpecker, and the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

The Downy Woodpecker is the smallest type of Woodpecker in the US. They are only about six inches long and have a mostly black body with some white spots on their wings. They have a short tail and a white stripe down their neck.

The Pileated Woodpecker is the largest type of Woodpecker in the US. They are about 18 inches long and have a mostly black body with red markings on their head, neck, and wings. They also have a large white patch on their belly.

Woodpeckers can be divided into three main groups: piculets, sapsuckers, and true woodpeckers.

  • Piculets are the smallest group and include the least weasel-like of all woodpeckers
  • Sapsuckers are named for their habit of drilling small holes in tree trunks to drink sap; these birds also eat insects attracted to the sap wells
  • True woodpeckers are the largest group and include the iconic red-headed Woodpecker

Each type of Woodpecker has its unique features and habits that make them enjoyable to observe.

Woodpeckers are an important part of our ecosystem. They help keep trees healthy by eating insects that can damage them. They also play an important role in pollination.

Interesting facts about Woodpeckers

1. What do Woodpeckers look like?

Woodpeckers are one of the most easily identifiable types of birds. They are about 12 inches long and have a wingspan of about 18 inches.

They have a black and white head, a long beak, and small eyes. Their feathers are mostly black, with some white markings on their heads, chests, and bellies. Male woodpeckers also have red crowns.

Woodpeckers have stiff tails that they use as supports when they peck into trees. They also have two toes in the front and two in the back.

Woodpeckers have several features that help them climb and cling to trees. They have strong, sharp claws for gripping bark, and their tails are long and featherless, so they can wrap around tree branches for stability.

Their beaks are specially adapted to prying insects out of crevices in trees, and their tongues are sticky so they can capture prey. Woodpeckers’ brains are larger than those of other birds, possibly because they need to remember the locations of good food sources.

Woodpeckers are usually shy birds and will fly away if you get too close.

2. What do Woodpeckers sound like?

Woodpeckers have a variety of calls that they use to communicate with one another. These calls can be used to warn other woodpeckers of danger, signal for food, or keep in touch with their family group. Some of the most common Woodpecker calls are described below.

  • The “Drill” call is a fast series of pecks that sounds like someone drilling into wood. This call is usually given to warn other birds or when the Woodpecker is threatened.
  • The “Rap” call is a loud, rapid succession of pecks that sounds similar to someone knocking on a door. It is used by males during the breeding season to attract mates. And it is also used by both sexes when seeking food.
  • The “Yelp” call is a high-pitched, short whistle that is used by both sexes to keep in touch with their family group.
  • The “Chatter” call is a series of rapid, staccato pecks that is used when the Woodpecker is excited or agitated. This call can be heard during feeding bouts and while chasing predators.
  • Woodpeckers can make these calls because they have specially adapted vocal cords to produce loud, clear sounds. By using these calls, woodpeckers can communicate with each other over long distances and warn others of potential danger.

3. How Are Woodpeckers Different From Other Birds?

Woodpeckers are different from other birds in several ways.

  • They have specially adapted beaks and tongues for capturing prey. They have strong claws for gripping bark
  • Their tails are long and featherless, so they can wrap around branches for stability
  • Woodpeckers also have specially adapted hearing abilities to detect tiny movements in tree bark caused by insect larvae. This allows them to locate food without damaging the tree
  • Finally, woodpeckers’ brains are larger than those of other birds, possibly because they need to remember the locations of good food sources

These features help woodpeckers survive in the trees where other birds would not be able to live.

4. How long do Woodpeckers live?

Woodpeckers can live up to 20 years in the wild. They are known to have a long lifespan compared to other birds.

Woodpeckers have been known to reach the age of 25 in captivity. Their longevity is likely due to their ability to escape predators and that they don’t fly long distances, which puts less stress on their bodies.

As with most animals, woodpecker populations decrease due to habitat loss and fragmentation.

Their average lifespan is around 14 years. Woodpeckers have few predators, so they often live a long time.

Many woodpeckers are killed when they collide with windows or power lines. Collisions with vehicles also account for many deaths each year. Despite these dangers, woodpeckers continue to thrive throughout much of their range.

5. Where do Woodpeckers live?

Woodpeckers can be found in many different habitats, including forests, woodlands, prairies, and even urban areas. Their climate range is from the tropical rainforest to the Arctic tundra. Some species even migrate long distances to find suitable habitats. Woodpeckers are very adaptable birds and can thrive in various environments:

  • Forests
  • Woodlands
  • Prairies
  • Urban Areas
  • Tropical Rainforest
  • Arctic Tundra
  • Sea Level
  • High Mountains

6. Where do Woodpeckers sleep?

Woodpeckers sleep in tree cavities, roosting on horizontal branches or trunks. They may also use abandoned holes of other animals, buildings, or poles. In cold weather, they often retreat to their daytime feeding areas to sleep.

Some woodpeckers have been known to sleep while flying.

Woodpecker nests are usually unlined, and many times the cavity is so small the bird has to contort its body to fit inside. Nests are reused year after year and can become quite large as more nesting material is added.

Some woodpeckers will also use man-made structures for sleeping, such as houses, barns, sheds, and even cars. These birds tend to prefer sheltered locations close to a food source.

The red-headed woodpecker is known for drilling holes in wooden siding and trims looking for insects. So if you have one of these birds frequenting your property, be prepared to have some minor repairs made.

Woodpeckers typically sleep during the day and feed during the early morning or evening hours. They may also nap for short periods during the day.

7. Where do Woodpeckers go at Night?

During the daytime hours, woodpeckers can be seen in many different habitats such as forests, woodlands, parks, and gardens. However, what do Woodpeckers do at night?

Most Woodpeckers retire to roosts or nests at night. They may also forage for food near the roosting area.

Most woodpeckers sleep in trees, but some may find shelter in buildings or other structures. They usually return to the same spot every night to sleep.

Some Woodpecker species will migrate to other areas during the winter months.

In colder climates, some birds may enter a state of torpor to conserve energy. Their heart rate and breathing slow down during this time, and they may not eat or drink for several days. This habit allows them to survive on stored energy until warmer temperatures return.

8. Where do Woodpeckers nest?

Woodpeckers nest in cavities in trees, often excavating their own homes by pecking away at the bark and wood.

They will also use holes made by other animals or natural crevices in the tree.

Some species will also build their nests on the ground or use abandoned birdhouses or other artificial structures. Woodpeckers are very resourceful birds and adapt to whatever environment they find themselves in.

9. When do Woodpeckers lay Eggs?

Woodpeckers typically lay eggs in the early spring, but some variation depends on the species. Some woodpeckers may nest as late as July or August, while others may start laying eggs as early as January.

Some woodpeckers may even lay eggs in the wintertime. It is important to research your specific woodpecker species to learn more about their reproductive habits.

For example, the red-headed woodpecker mates and lays eggs earlier in the year than some of its relatives.

So if you are trying to attract a red-headed woodpecker to your backyard, you will want to provide food and nesting materials sooner rather than later.

Females lay four to six eggs, and both parents help incubate them and feed the young. The female woodpecker will incubate the eggs for about two weeks before hatching. Once hatched, the young woodpeckers will remain in the nest for another two to four weeks until they are ready to fledge.

Woodpeckers are known to be excellent parents and will often care for their young long after they have left the nest.

10. Do Woodpeckers migrate?

Woodpeckers are known for their long-distance migrations. They travel to warmer climates in winter, where they can find food and shelter. They often fly hundreds or even thousands of miles between their breeding and wintering grounds.

Some woodpecker species, such as the red-headed woodpecker, make short migrations within the United States. Like the ivory-billed woodpecker, others are considered true migrants and travel to Central America or South America every winter.

Woodpeckers use a variety of methods to navigate during migration.

  • Many species rely on stored memories of their territory’s topography to help them find their way back home each year
  • Others use cues from the sun and stars to orient themselves while in flight

Migration is an important part of a woodpecker’s life cycle, and it helps them survive during the winter months when food is scarce.

11. How far do Woodpeckers Migrate?

Woodpeckers can migrate up to several hundred miles, depending on the species. Some woodpeckers may only migrate a short distance within their home range, while others may travel much further.

Woodpeckers use a variety of strategies for migration, including flying long distances, walking or hopping along the ground, and swimming across bodies of water. They often fly in formation, with one bird leading and others following.

Woodpecker migrations are typically timed to coincide with the changing seasons, allowing them to take advantage of food sources available at different times of the year.

For example, many woodpeckers will head south in the fall when insects are becoming scarce in their northern habitat.

12. Where do Woodpeckers go in the Winter?

Most woodpeckers migrate south for the winter. Some woodpeckers may also stay in their current location if there is an adequate food supply.

They may move to lower elevations or follow food sources. Woodpeckers typically return to their breeding grounds when trees start blooming in the spring. Some species like the red-headed woodpecker and yellow-bellied sapsucker may migrate back and forth between the United States and Mexico.

13. What Flowers do Woodpeckers like?

Woodpeckers are attracted to the colors red, orange, and yellow. The flowers that woodpeckers like the best have a strong smell.

They also love brightly colored flowers, especially red ones. Woodpeckers typically avoid sweet-smelling flowers since they don’t want to attract predators. Instead, they prefer plants with a pungent odor. If you’re trying to attract woodpeckers to your yard, make sure to plant some of these flowers:

  • Honeysuckle
  • Trumpet vine
  • Morning glory
  • Cardinal flower
  • Wild bergamot
  • Blackberry brambles
  • Raspberry canes
  • Sumac trees/shrubs

14. What Plants do Woodpeckers like?

Woodpeckers are attracted to certain types of plants. They love trees that produce berries, nuts, or sap. Woodpeckers also like tall trees with smooth bark. You can attract woodpeckers to your yard by planting trees and shrubs. Some of the best plants to attract woodpeckers include:

  • Maple trees
  • Dogwood trees
  • Holly bushes
  • Black cherry trees
  • Red cedar trees
  • Juniper bushes
  • Apple trees
  • Crabapple trees
  • Sugar maple trees

If you’re not sure which plants to choose from, consult a local nursery or garden center. They will be able to help you find the right plants for your area. With a little effort, you can create a backyard sanctuary that woodpeckers will love!

15. What do Woodpeckers eat?


Woodpecker’s diet consists mainly of insects, which they find by pecking on tree bark looking for larvae living underneath the surface. Woodpeckers have specially adapted bills that allow them to extract insects from tree bark and wood.

Tree Sap

They also consume sap from trees (especially maple), fruit, nuts, and berries. Woodpeckers also occasionally scavenge for food on the ground or in bird feeders.

Lizards and Snakes

In the warmer parts of their range, they also eat small lizards and snakes.


In addition to their diet, woodpeckers consume a lot of grit to help them digest their food properly.

Grit is a type of sand that can be found in many bird feeders. By consuming grit, woodpeckers help wear down their beaks which helps keep them sharp.

These birds have strong muscles and tend to be very dexterous, which allows them to cling tightly to trees while pecking. Some people believe that woodpeckers can help protect trees by hunting down insect pests that can damage or even kill the trees.

Woodpeckers typically forage on trees and utility poles in yards and parks and visit bird feeders. Suet is a popular food among woodpeckers.

How to attract Woodpeckers

woodpeckers characteristics

Woodpeckers are a common sight in many parts of the United States. They can be a real asset to any backyard bird watcher. These birds are attracted to areas with large trees that have plenty of dead or decaying wood for them to peck. You can do several things to make your backyard more appealing to woodpeckers and increase your chances of seeing these beautiful birds.

  • The most important thing you can do is provide an adequate food supply. Woodpeckers love insects, so providing a feeding station that features suet or other insect-based foods is a great way to attract them
  • You can also put up a feeder, woodpeckers will often visit feeders to catch insects that are attracted to the nectar
  • Another key factor in attracting woodpeckers is providing a place for them to perch. Install a few large trees in your yard, and make sure they have plenty of dead or decaying branches
  • You can also put up a birdhouse specifically designed for woodpeckers
  • Be sure to keep your yard clean and free of debris, as woodpeckers are very selective about where they nest and will avoid cluttered or messy areas

Where to Place Woodpeckers Feeder?

If you want to attract woodpeckers to your yard, you will need to provide them with a place to nest. You can do this by putting up a feeder specifically for woodpeckers. Woodpecker feeders come in many different shapes and sizes, so you should be able to find one that fits your needs.

When choosing a location for your woodpecker feeder, here’re the clues to an ideal place:

  • Near trees or other structures with holes large enough for woodpeckers to use as nests
  • In an area that receives a lot of sunlight
  • Away from areas where there are a lot of predators, such as cats and dogs

How do Woodpeckers find Feeders?

  • Woodpeckers have an amazing sense of sight that helps them find feeders. They can see colors very well and spot food from a distance away
  • Woodpeckers also have a good sense of hearing which helps them locate food sources. They can hear movement from far away and will often fly to the noise source
  • Lastly, woodpeckers use their sense of smell to find food. They will often land on a tree near a feeder and take in smells from the surrounding area. If they smell something interesting, they will follow the scent until they find the feeder

By using all of their senses, woodpeckers can quickly find food sources and eat plenty of nutritious food.

Birdbath for Woodpeckers

You can do a few things to make your yard more hospitable to woodpeckers. One is to install a birdbath.

Woodpeckers love to drink and bathe in freshwater, so a birdbath will give them a place to wet their beak and take a bath.

You may also consider including a small tree or other natural feature near the bath to give the woodpeckers somewhere to sit while they drink and bathe.

The size of the bath doesn’t matter as much as the location. Place it in an area where the woodpeckers can easily see and access it from a perch

Finally, make sure you keep your yard clean and free of debris, which will help attract woodpeckers.


Woodpeckers have a lot to teach us about how to live our lives. They are efficient, persistent, and passionate workers who know how to make the most out of every moment.

We can learn from their example to be more productive and enjoy life more fully. Woodpeckers also provide a valuable service by helping to keep our forests healthy by removing deadwood.

Woodpeckers are important animals that help us learn about the environment. We hope you found it helpful and informative. Please let us know if you have any questions or comments in the comments section below.

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