The biggest state in the United States is Alaska. It is home to a diverse population of animals and birds. Many kinds of woodpeckers may be found among this diverse wildlife. The 7 species of woodpeckers found in Alaska will be discussed in this article.
So that you may recognize and learn a few interesting facts about each of these species, we’ll take a look at them one by one.
SPECIES OF WOODPECKERS OF ALASKA
Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, American Three-toed Woodpecker, Black-backed Woodpecker, Red-breasted Sapsucker, and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker are the seven species of woodpeckers found in Alaska.
1. DOWNY WOODPECKER
Length: 5.5-6.7 in
Weight: 0.7-1.0 oz
Wingspan: 9.8-11.8 in
The smallest of the woodpeckers on our list is the first. The Downy Woodpecker may be found across much of the lower 48 states and Canada all year. Southern Alaska is home to year-round Downy Woodpeckers, but they are uncommon in the northern half of the state.
Open woodlands, forest, orchards, groves, and suburban settings are among the habitats where they may be found. In reality, it shows up at feeders and even municipal parks on a regular basis. It is able to forage in places where bigger woodpeckers can’t, such as tall weed stalks and grasses, due to its tiny size.
The black and white colors of Upy Woodpeckers are similar to those of Hairy Woodpeckers. Their undersides are white, while their uppers are black with white checkering and a large white stripe down the back.
A tiny red patch appears on the tops of males’ heads as well. They sit on tree trunks with straight backs and drill-like bills, similar to the silhouette of a bigger woodpecker. Downy Woodpeckers, on the other hand, have smaller bills in proportion to their bodies.
2. HAIRY WOODPECKER
Length: 7.1-10.2 in
Weight: 1.4-3.4 oz
Wingspan: 13.0-16.1 in
The plumage of Hairy Woodpeckers is virtually identical to Downy Woodpeckers. They have a single white stripe that runs down the back of their bodies, which is mostly black and white. Hairy Woodpeckers, on the other hand, are larger and have a longer beak.
Hairy Woodpeckers drill and dig a lot in order to eat on wood-boring insects and larvae, as compared to other smaller sized woodpeckers. Listen for their drumming, which can be heard perched on tree trunks and main limbs.
Hairy Woodpeckers live in parts of central and southern Alaska year-round, much like the Downy Woodpecker. These birds prefer older and taller trees, and are often seen in mature woodlands and open woodlands since they are bigger than Downy Woodpeckers.
While they may occasionally take advantage of a feeder, especially those loaded with suet, they are less likely to be discovered in suburbs and backyards.
3. NORTHERN FLICKER
Length: 11.0-12.2 in
Weight: 3.9-5.6 oz
Wingspan: 16.5-20.1 in
Northern Flickers are the ones who stand out when it comes to coloration among all the woodpeckers found in Alaska. Northern Flickers are brown all over with a lot of patterning on their undersides and wings, unlike most species that have mostly black and white plumages.
With smooth, rounded heads and long, tapered tails, they’re big woodpeckers that range in size from that of an American Robin to Crow. Northern Flickers may be divided into two groups based on their coloration. Northern Flickers in the east have bright yellow patches beneath their wings, but birds in the west, including Alaska, have red.
Only during the breeding season in Central Alaska can Northern Flickers be found. These animals feed on tree and shrubbery, which provide open areas for grazing. Northern Flickers are frequently seen directly on the ground, using their somewhat down-curved bills to dig for ants. In contrast to other woodpeckers, they spend a lot of time on the ground foraging.
4. AMERICAN THREE-TOED WOODPECKER
Length: 8.3-9.1 in
Weight: 1.6-2.4 oz
Wingspan: 14.6-15.3 in
Although not as frequent near the shore, American three-toed Woodpeckers may be found all year in most of Alaska. They’re difficult to locate because of their small size and inconspicuous appearance. Three-toed woodpeckers commonly sit still or flake off the bark for a long period of time on a single tree.
These woodpecker don’t drill or excavate wood like most species, instead peeling the bark off with their bills.
Between the size of a Downy and Hairy Woodpecker, American Three-toed Woodpeckers are about the size of an American Robin. To help them pick off bark, their bills are rather small but are robust and sturdy. Their white undersides are covered in fine black barring, and they’re mostly black and white. On the foreheads of males, there is a brownish yellow patch.
5. BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER
Length: 9.1 in
Weight: 2.1-3.1 oz
Wingspan: 15.8-16.5 in
American Three-toed Woodpeckers are comparable to Black-backed Woodpeckers. Their year-round range extends all the way to Alaska’s northernmost region. Although they are uncommon, Black-backed Woodpeckers are more noticeable than American Three-toed Woodpeckers.
In places where both species of woodpeckers live, Black-backed Woodpeckers are often the most common. Three-toed Woodpeckers are frequently driven away from their areas.
These aren’t big birds, about the size of a Hairy Woodpecker. They have less barring on the back and wings than the American Three-toed Woodpecker, which makes them look similar. In woodlands where wildfires had occurred, the solid black plumage on their backs helps them blend in with charred trees.
These burnt areas attract Black-backed Woodpeckers, who will occupy them for years and feast on the larvae of wood-boring beetles and other insects.
6. RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER
Length: 7.9-8.7 in
Weight: 1.9-2.2 oz
Wingspan: 14.6-16.0 in
Only in the panhandle of southern Alaska can you find Red-breasted Sapsuckers. They prefer coniferous woods, but during the winter, they expand their ranges to include other trees.
There hasn’t been a lot of research done on the differences in behavior because Red-breasted Sapsuckers, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, and Red-naped Sapsuckers were thought to be the same species for a long time.
The red-breasted sapsucker is a medium-sized woodpecker with crimson heads and crimson chests. Their bodies are completely covered in black and white plumage. Other sapsuckers forage in the same manner, drilling tiny sap wells into trees to lap up the tree sap as it flows.
7. YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER
Length: 7.1-8.7 in
Weight: 1.5-1.9 oz
Wingspan: 13.4-15.8 in
Each year, the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker migrates north to breed, first to Canada and then to Alaska. When they’re pairing up to mate and nest, look for Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers in Alaska in the spring and summer.
They aren’t usually seen at bird feeders, and instead consume sap as their primary source of food. With their lengthy tongues, they drill holes in maple, elm, aspen, and birch trees and collect sap. They will also devour a range of insects in addition to sap.
HOW TO ATTRACT WOODPECKERS
Attracting woodpeckers to our feeds or yards is something we enjoy for many of us. They offer a little excitement and are just as common as chickadees, titmice, or cardinals. They are, however, more difficult to find and attract. Some advice on how to entice woodpeckers to your property may be found here.
- Many kinds of woodpeckers are known for visiting bird feeders, so offer them food they like. It’s a good idea to offer black sunflower seed and a suet feeder. A suet feeder with a tail prop area that will help draw larger woodpeckers is a must-have.
- Woodpeckers prefer dead and dying trees with plenty of insect larvae for them to feast on, so leave dead trees alone.
- Many woodpeckers species will utilize nest boxes that have been placed up. From May through July, Pileated woodpeckers utilize nesting boxes.
- Woodpeckers may occasionally enjoy fruits and berries like dogwood, serviceberry, tupelo, mountain ash, strawberry, cherry, grapes, bayberry, holly, blueberries and apples. Plant native fruit-bearing plants and trees to attract them.
- Woodpeckers will utilize bird baths just like any other birds, so ensure that you have a water source nearby, such as with a water mover or solar fountain. To prevent the fountain from stopping every time the sun goes behind a cloud, solar fountains with batteries are best.