You love nature and wildlife, but did you know that Florida has a lot of interesting birds? One that we have not talked about yet is the Woodpecker.
Woodpecker species are some of the most common birds in North America. They are an important ecological keystone species in our ecosystem because they eat insects that destroy trees. They also help with pest control by eating pests such as ants and termites.
The Woodpecker genus has over 200 species distributed worldwide across four families (Picidae, Picinae, Colbiidae, Campephagidae). Most woodpecker species live only within the tropics, although some tropical species extend into temperate zones. In the United States, there are approximately 40 species of woodpecker. Here are 11 Florida woodpeckers species.
How many species of woodpeckers are in Florida?
Woodpecker populations have declined over time due to habitat destruction and climate change.
How many species of woodpecker are in Florida? This question has been asked countless times before but never answered definitively. Until now. Here’s the answer to the age-old question.
Woodpeckers are found throughout North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, South America, and Antarctica. The largest number of woodpecker species live in tropical regions. Florida has at least ten woodpecker species, and we will show you how to identify the most common species.
What is the most common Florida Woodpeckers species?
The most common Woodpecker in Florida is the Red-bellied Woodpecker (Carolina Woodpecker).
The Red-bellied Woodpecker is a species in the Picidae family. It breeds in southern Canada, the northeastern United States, Florida, and Texas. It was first described in Linnaeus’ Systema Naturae under the name Picus carolinus.
Scientific name: Melanerpes carolinus
Size: This species measures about 23 – 27 cm and weigh about 72g.
Appearance: This bird is called “Red-Bellied” because it has a distinctive color pattern. It has a black and white striped coloration on its body that resembles a zebra pattern. Its head, legs, and tail are white, and its belly is white with a reddish tint.
Diet: These woodpeckers eat insects, seeds, nuts, berries, and fruits, and sometimes they eat small fish, tree frogs, and eggs of small birds.
Habitat: They live in deciduous forests near water sources. They can also be found in agricultural land, plantations, grove, and cities.
Breeding/nesting: They nest in cavities such as tree holes, hollow logs, stumps, and buildings. Their loud call sounds similar to tapping on a piece of metal. You can hear this bird calling during daylight throughout most of North America.
Attract Red-bellied Woodpeckers with a suet feeder, though they will also sometimes eat at seed feeders if you offer sunflowers and peanuts.
What is the largest woodpecker in Florida?
The Pileated Woodpecker is the largest Woodpecker in Florida and North America.
It is also one of the most recognizable birds in Florida. This big and loud bird makes a deep tapping sound while pecking away at tree trunks. These woodpeckers live in groups called flocks, and they are known to attack people trying to take pictures of them.
It’s impossible to confuse pileated woodpeckers with any other bird except the ivory-bill woodpecker. They often visit bird feeder or log filled with suet or peanut butter.
Scientific name: Dryocopus pileatus
Size: It is one of the biggest woodpeckers in North America. It’s about 40-49 cm and weighs 250-350 g with a 66-75 cm wingspan.
Appearance: Pileated Woodpeckers have a large red crest on top of their head. Their plumage is primarily dark gray or black with black and white stripes on each side of the head.
Diet: Their main diet consists of insects such as ants and termites. These include beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers, crickets, and spiders. The pileated is primarily active during daylight hours, but it spends much of its time feeding on insects, especially carpenter ants. You can find them due to the rectangular holes they leave.
In winter, the birds move south into Mexico and Central America.
Habitat: They are native to North America and can be found across the continent. They inhabit mature forests and heavily wooded parks, where plenty of dead wood is lying.
Breeding/Nesting: Pileated Woodpecks start breeding in early spring and continue until mid-August. They lay 2-4 eggs per clutch.
They like to build nests out of sticks and leaves. They usually nest near water, which helps keep them cool during summer.
What is the smallest Woodpecker in Florida?
The Downy Woodpecker is the smallest Woodpecker in Florida and also in North America. They are seen slightly more frequently in summer in Florida.
Scientific name: The bird’s scientific name is Dryobates Pubescens.
Size: It measures approximately 14 – 17 cm from beak to tail tip.
Appearance: These woodpeckers have short bills and are relatively small. They have white bellies and a primarily black back that includes streaks and spots of white, making it look like a checkerboard pattern. Males have red spots on the head, but females don’t.
Downy Woodpeckers are one of the most commonly found birds around us.
Diet: Their diet includes insects, larvae inside wood or tree bark, nuts, acorns, grains, and berries.
Habitat: The Downy Woodpecker is found primarily in deciduous woods and along streams. They prefer deciduous trees like oaks, maples, hickories, and elms.
Breeding/nesting: They nest in dead trees or in dead parts of live trees. They nest in holes or hollows. They lay 3-8 eggs per clutch. Incubation takes about 12 days.
What is the rarest Woodpecker in Florida?
There are only one species of woodpecker in Florida that are considered endangered. It’s the Ivory-billed Woodpecker.
This bird was once widespread across the southeastern United States. However, due to habitat loss, hunting, and climate change, the population of the Ivory-billed woodpecker has declined drastically over the past few decades.
It was considered extremely rare by the 20th century and officially declared extinct in 1944.
However, over the subsequent decades, sightings of the bird have prompted ornithologists to continue looking for it in the wilds of Florida and Louisiana.
Ivory-bill woodpecker sightings have been reported from North Florida and adjacent states.
Two Florida residents reported seeing an ivory-bill woodpecker in Highlands County between 1967 and 1969. A storm destroyed the tree where the bird had allegedly been roosted, but a feather from one of the birds was found and is now at the Florida Museum of Natural history.
The feather didn’t prove that the birds were there recently enough to conclude that they were alive.
Scientific name: Campephilus principalis
Size: It measures around 48-53 cm and weighs about 450-570 g with a 30-31 cm wingspan.
Appearance: This large Woodpecker had black plumage with two white stripes down the neck, a large white band in the upper wings, and a pale bill. Males had a red crest; females had a black crest.
Diet: They ate mostly large beetle larvae of the longhorn, jewel, and click beetle families. They also consumed the smaller larvae of the bark beetle family.
Habitat: The ivory-billed Woodpecker used to live in the upland pines and flooded cypress swamplands in the South.
Breeding/Nesting: Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers built their nest in dead tree trunks or branches, usually just below a broken one, for protective reasons and because fungus and rot have often softened up the wood there. Females laid 1-5 eggs per clutch.
Other Species of Woodpeckers in Florida
1. Red-headed Woodpecker
The red-headed Woodpecker is one of many bird species in North America that you might see during the summer months.
A recent study in Florida found that 29 bird species are at high risk of extinction due to climate change, with the Red-Headed Woodpecker being one of the 13 “highly vulnerable” bird populations.
Scientific name: Melanerpes erythrocephalus
Size: This species is about 20-25 cm (8 inches) tall and weighs around 72g.
Appearance: The red-headed Woodpecker has an unmistakable plumage pattern. Adult males have bright red heads, white underparts, and black tails with large white patches on their lower back, making them look like they’re wearing a cape when perched. Juveniles have brownish-gray head feathers and white wing patches with black spots near the trailing edges.
Habitat: This species lives in various habitats such as deciduous forests, open woodlots, parks, urban areas, savannah-like grasslands with scattered trees, riparian forests, and wetlands.
Diet: It eats insects, fruit, berries, invertebrates, and other birds’ eggs.
Breeding/Nesting: The Red-headed Woodspeaker builds a hole in a tree trunk and uses it as a nesting site. It digs out a chamber at least 1 m deep and 2 m wide. It then lines the cavity with dry leaves, bark, and small branches.
The male performs most of the construction work, but the female helps by collecting materials and carrying them into the nest. She may even lay her eggs directly in the entrance tunnel. The pair usually raises three broods per season.
2. Hairy Woodpecker
Scientific name: Leuconotopicus villosus
Size: This bird measures approximately 22.86 cm long with a 38.1 cm wingspan.
Appearance: Hairy woodpeckers have black-and-white stripes on their square head and erect upright posture while perched on a tree trunk. Their upper part is black, while the underside is white. They have a long, narrow, chisel-like beak and white spots on their wings feathers.
Hairy Woodpecker is sometimes called the Red Head Woodpecker due to the reddish head markings. However, there are no red feathers on the head.
These birds are often confused with Downy Woodpecker, smaller and lighter colored.
Their calls include a loud “peek,” a low rattle, and a high-pitched whistle.
Diet: Hairy Woodpecker feeds mainly on ants, termites, beetles, and other insects.
Habitat: They live in deciduous forests throughout North America. Hairy Woodpecker prefers mature, tall trees such as oak, hickory, maple, elm, ash, cottonwood, sycamore, poplar, basswood, tuliptree, and hackberry.
Breeding/Nesting: The hairy Woodpecker starts to breed from late March to late May every year and lays 3-5 eggs per clutch.
Nests are usually built near the base of a tree trunk. Some nests are placed on branches, but those are very rare. Hairy Woodpeckers rarely use cavities. Instead, they build their nests in holes in dead logs and stumps. They are also frequent guests of backyard bird feeders.
3. Red-cockaded Woodpecker
Scientific name: Leuconotopicus borealis
Size: This bird has a length of about 17.78 cm and weighs between 42 to 52 g with a 36 cm wingspan.
Appearance: The Red-Cockaded Woodpecker looks like a miniature version of its larger cousin, the Hairy Woodpecker. Its back has black-and-white stripes with a white cheek, a black-and-white head, and a tiny red streak along the cheek.
Diet: The Red-Cockedaded eats insects or larvae and eggs of those and other arthropods found on and under the bark of pine trees. They also consume berries, seeds, and fruits.
Habitat: The Red-Cocksaded lives in old-growth, open-understory pine forests across much of southeastern North America. They are sometimes found in younger stands or stands with dense hardwood encroachment or scattered slash pines mixed with bald cypress and grassy wetlands.
Deforestation has caused the decline of the red-cockaded woodpecker population. They’re no longer as prominent as before.
Breeding/nesting: The Red-Cockeaded builds its nest in living pine trees where the heartwood has been softened by red heart fungus.
Females lay 2-5 eggs per clutch. Incubation takes 10-11 days, and chicks leave their nest about 26-29 days after hatching.
4. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Scientific name: Sphyrapicus varius
Size: It is about 19-21 cm long with a wingspan of 34-40 cm and weighs about 43-55g.
Appearance: Yellow-bellied sapsuckers are black and gray birds with a red crown and throat. Their backs have black and white stripes, and their bellies vary from white to light yellow. Females have a white throat.
Diet: The bird’s name comes from the sap it sucks out of trees. They eat caterpillars, ants, beetles, spiders, fruits, and berries.
Habitats: They can be found near trees and dig shallow holes in tree trunks, using their brush-like tongues for drinking sap from trees.
They don’t choose specific habitats during their winters. Still, they’re usually located in bottomland hardwoods or mixed hardwoods at elevations up to 10,000 feet and forests of hickory or pines and oaks.
Breeding/Nesting: Yellow bellies prefer similar trees for nesting as they do for well digging. They include aspen, birch maple, beech, elm, and others. Nests made from live trees are often infested with fungi that cause their heartwood or sapwood to rot, which makes them easier to excavate.
Males usually choose the nest tree they want to use for their nests. Cavity nests may last for up to seven years for multiple breeding seasons. A pair of them usually lays 4-6 eggs per season.
5. Northern Flicker
Scientific name: Colaptes auratus
Size: It measures about 28-31 cm and weighs about 110-160 g with a 42-51 cm wingspan.
Appearance: It’s got a brownish plumage with a white rump patch visible when perched and two red streaks on the head. Males have black stripes on their cheeks, while females get reddish-orange stripes. Eastern birds’ undersides of the wing and tail are bright yellow, but western ones are red. The plumage is richly patterned with black spots, bars, and crescents in a closer look.
Diet: Northern Flickers feed primarily on insects. They also eat some fruits, seeds, and berries in winter. They hammer away at tree trunks, searching for food.
Habitat: Their habitat includes woodlands, forest edges, open fields with scattered trees, or urban parks and suburbs.
Breeding/Nesting: Northern Flickers typically nest in holes under dead trees, although sometimes they use natural cavities or artificial structures such as buildings. Their nests are usually lined with plant material and moss. A single clutch of 5 to 8 eggs is laid each season. Both parents incubate the eggs and feed the chicks.
6. Golden-Fronted Woodpecker
Scientific name: Melanerpes aurifrons
Size: It measures about 22-26 cm and weighs about 73-99 g with a 42-44 cm wingspan.
Appearance: They have a grayish-brown head and body, a yellowish-orange nape, yellow spots in front of the eyes, black-and-white barred wings, and black tails. Males have a red central crown. Their lower belly is yellow but difficult to see. Females have yellow capes.
Diet: They’re omnivorous, feeding mainly on insects, larvae, spiders, fruits, and nuts. They also eat ants, beetles, grasshoppers, cicadas, praying mantises, walking sticks, moths, and small lizards. In tropical forests, they eat small fruits. In Texas, they eat acorns, fruits of prickly pear cactus, sumac, and berries.
Habitat: They live in dry, semi-open woodlands and brushlands in America.
Breeding/Nesting: They build their nests in hollows of mesquite, pecan, oak, hackberry, cottonwood, Mexican ash, or cedar elm. Nests can be as high as 6–20 feet. A female woodpecker lays 4-7 eggs per clutch. Incubation lasts for 12-14 days.
How to Attract Woodpeckers to Your Backyard
Woodpeckers love suet, but sometimes we just forget how much work goes into ensuring our backyard is ready for them. If you want to attract woodpeckers to your yard, here are some tips to keep in mind.
Make Sure You Have Enough Suet
Suet is one of the most important aspects of attracting woodpeckers; if you don’t have enough suet, you won’t have any woodpeckers visiting.
Fresh suet is best because it has a longer shelf life than old suet. Old suet will start to go rancid after about six months. This means that it may not smell good anymore.
Keep Water Out Of Feeders
One of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to attract woodpeckers is keeping water out of their feeders. Woodpeckers don’t care where the water ends up; they just want to drink it. When you put water inside of your feeders, you’re giving them free access to a drinking fountain. They won’t come to your backyard if they can’t eat and drink while there.
Use Bird Seed
Bird seed is another great way to attract birds to your backyard. It doesn’t matter what kind of bird seed you buy, as long as it has been specially designed to attract different types of birds. Many companies offer mixes that include both sunflower seeds and mealworms. Mealworms are a favorite among many species of birds, including woodpeckers.
Put Up Bird Houses
Birdhouses are a great way to attract woodpeckers back to your yard. These structures are designed to mimic the nest of a particular species of bird. Most birdhouses will cost around $20-$30, depending on the size and style. There are several different styles available on Amazon.com, and each type offers its own benefits. One of the best things about birdhouses is that they’re easy to install. Most of the time, you must drill a hole in the side and hang it up.
Plant Trees That Provide Food For Birds
Plenty of plants are perfect for attracting birds to your backyard. One of the easiest ways to get started is by planting fruit trees. Fruit trees are known for producing delicious fruits, which means they’re also a great source of nutrition for birds.
Make Sure Your Yard Is Safe From Squirrels
Squirrels are notorious for taking over trees and using them as their homes. This isn’t only bad news for woodpeckers but also bad news for homeowners who live near squirrel-infested areas. If you notice that squirrels are starting to take over some of your trees, you can cover the holes with wire mesh or simply cut down the tree and move it away from the rest of your property. Either way, you’ll eliminate the problem and give the woodpeckers something else to build nests.
Don’t Leave Any Openings On Your House
Woodpeckers love to build their nests inside hollowed-out logs. Unfortunately, most log homes don’t have enough openings to accommodate a large family of baby woodpecker chicks. If you notice that one of your log homes is missing an opening, you should fill it in so that the woodpeckers can continue building their nests.
Create An Attractive Backyard Habitat
You don’t need to spend a lot of money to create a beautiful habitat for wildlife. There are lots of simple things that you can do to improve the appearance of your backyard. Start by removing weeds and grasses from your lawn. Then, plant flowers and shrubs throughout your garden. Finally, add rocks and other natural features to your landscape.