Woodpeckers In Florida [The 8 Species You’re Likely To See!]

woodpeckers in florida

Woodpeckers are fascinating birds to encounter in the wild and there are a variety of species that are commonly found in Florida. They are generally attracted to the pine forests found in the area but sadly, many of these are being cleared which has resulted in a lot of loss of habitat for these birds.

However, there are still many state parks in Florida where you can go and spot some woodpeckers. Most notably is the Blackwater Heritage State Trail where you can see most woodpecker species found in Florida.

8 Species Of Woodpeckers Commonly Found In Florida All Year Round

Currently, there are 8 species of woodpeckers that you can see in Florida all year round. Plus, there are another 3 species that tend to migrate to this area during the fall and winter.

Here some interesting facts about the woodpeckers that call Florida home.

Species Scientific Name Height Weight Wingspan
Red-Bellied Woodpecker Melanerpes carolinus 9.4 inches Up to 3.2 ounces Up to 16.5 inches
Red-Headed Woodpecker Melanerpes erythrocephalus Up to 9.1 inches Up to 3.2 ounces 16.5 inches
Pileated Woodpecker Dryocopus pileatus Up to 19.3 inches Up to 12.3 ounces Up to 29.5 inches
Hairy Woodpecker Leuconotopicus villosus Up to 10.2 inches Up to 3.4 ounces Up to 16.1 inches
Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens Up to 6.7 inches Up to 1 ounce Up to 11.8 inches
Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus Up to 12.2 inches Up to 5.6 ounces Up to 20.1 inches
Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker Sphyrapicus varius Up to 8.7 inches Up to 1.9 ounces Up to 15.8 inches
Red-Cockaded Woodpecker Leuconotopicus borealis Up to 9.1 inches Up to 1.8 ounces 14.2 inches

As you can see, the Pileated woodpecker is the largest species found in Florida and the Downy woodpecker is the smallest. Let’s look at each species individually and how you can identify them.

1. Red-Bellied Woodpecker

This is probably the most common woodpecker found in Florida. Surprisingly though, it doesn’t have a red belly as the name would suggest. Here are it’s most distinguishing features.

  • The belly of this bird is actually white with only a slight tinge of red.
  • Their back and wing feathers are black with white wavy bars.
  • The female bird has red feathers on the back of her head and over her beak while the male bird actually has a red helmet.
  • This woodpecker can drum at 19 beats per second and is one of the noisiest woodpeckers on our list.
  • It has a piercing “Churrr” call to let you know that it’s nearby

Red-bellied woodpeckers like to live along riverbanks, swamps, deciduous forests, open fields and urban parks. They are also known to visit backyard bird feeders looking for nuts, sunflower seeds and suet. Sometimes, they will gather nuts and seeds from these feeders and stash them in tree crevices for later.

In the wild, their diet consist mainly of insects found under the bark and in crevices of large trees.

2. Red-Headed Woodpecker

The red-headed woodpecker really does have a red head. Also, both the male and female of the species are identical in plumage. Here are the major identifying features.

  • The back and tail feathers are black.
  • The chest of the red-headed woodpecker is white as are the tips of the flight feathers.
  • These woodpeckers have the most distinctive crimson head that is hard to miss.
  • This pretty woodpecker can drum for 19 to 25 beats per second and will do so in repeated intervals.
  • It also has a “Churrr” call similar to the Red-bellied woodpeckers but this woodpecker’s call is shorter and sharper.

Red-headed woodpeckers prefer to live in wetlands and open swamps. Unfortunately, their population seems to be declining because of the removal of dead trees in these areas which they used mainly for their nesting sites.

One of this woodpecker’s favorite food is beech nuts. However, there has been major destruction of the giant beech forests that used to grace the area. In addition, a fungal disease has destroyed almost all the chestnut trees in the area further reducing this bird’s food supply.

3. Pileated Woodpecker

The Pileated woodpecker is the largest of all woodpeckers found in Florida. Apart from their size, here are some other distinguishing features to identify them.

  • These birds are mainly black but have white stripes on the faces and necks.
  • They also have a red crest on the top of their heads.
  • Male birds will have a red stripe on their cheek while females have a black stripe.

Pileated woodpeckers like to live in mature forests where there are lots of fallen trees. Their diet mainly consists of ants, termites and beetles that bore into the rotting wood. These birds will also feed on nuts and fruits.

4. Hairy Woodpecker

The hairy woodpecker is somewhat similar to the downy woodpecker except the former is a larger bird. Here are some identifying features of the hairy woodpecker.

  • These birds are primarily black and white with a small red stripe on the top of the head.
  • The back feathers are black with white speckles or bands while the tail feathers are white.
  • Their chest is completely white and this goes up to the throat.
  • The head of the hairy woodpecker has stripes of black and white running from front to back.

These birds like to live in open forests with deciduous trees. They especially like tall trees. Their diet consists mainly of beetle larvae and ants. They like to bore deep into trees so that they can get the larvae that they enjoy.

5. Downy Woodpecker

The downy woodpecker is similar to the hairy woodpecker except that it’s a lot smaller. Here’s how to identify this bird.

  • A downy woodpecker is also mainly black and white with a small black spot on the back of the head.
  • The back feathers are black with white bands
  • The chest is also completely white.
  • The tail feathers are black with a few white outer feathers.
  • The downy woodpecker also has a much smaller beak than its hairy cousin.

You’re most likely to find downy woodpeckers at backyard feeders. However, they do like to nest in dead tree cavities. Their diet mainly consists of insects, nuts and berries. They’re also impartial to acorns and grains and can sometimes be seen at hummingbird feeders for a drink.

6. Northern Flicker

Northern flickers are quite unique among woodpeckers in that they can do some foraging for food on the ground. This allows them to gather up beetles and ants. Here are some identifying features:

  • Northern flickers are mainly brown with black spots on their backs.
  • Their chests are a creamy color with the same black spots.
  • Both male and female flickers have a gray crown with a bright red patch on the back of their heads.
  • Flickers also have a solid black band on their upper chest just below their throat.
  • Northern flickers that live in Florida also have a yellow shaft on the undersides of their wings and tail feathers.

As mentioned, Northern Flickers like to forage for their food on the ground. They use the same pecking motion to dig up ants and other insects. They also like to add peanuts, sunflower seeds and suet to their diet if there’s a backyard feeder handy.

7. Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied sapsuckers do indeed eat sap as the name would suggest. They can be identified by the following features.

  • These birds have black and white feathers on their back and large white patch on their shoulder.
  • They also have black and white striped faces.
  • Their most distinguishing feature is the red patch on top of their crown and on their throat.

These sapsuckers use their beaks to drill holes into large trees such as elms, aspens, maples and birch trees. They then collect the sap with their long tongues. They also like to feast on many different types of insects.

8. Red-Cockaded Woodpecker

The red-cockaded woodpecker is listed as an endangered species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This is mainly due to the loss of their habitat. Here’s how to identify one of these rare birds.

  • These birds are mainly black and white.
  • They have black feathers on their back with white bands
  • Their chests are mainly white.
  • The top of their head and the sides of their throat are black while their cheeks are white.

These birds prefer to live in old pine forests which is most likely why they’re on the endangered list. They feed mainly on insects and larvae. They also enjoy pine seeds and many types of fruit and berries.

Final Thoughts

There are 8 different species of woodpeckers that live in Florida all year round. Most of these birds prefer open forests that have large or fallen trees that they can forage in. Sometimes, you might even see some species, like the downy woodpecker, at your backyard bird feeders.

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