In North America, there are up to 22 different types of woodpeckers, with 12 of them being found in Arizona. We’ll explore each species in depth in this article, discussing where and when you might see one in Arizona. I’ll also provide you with some advice on how to entice woodpeckers to your yard at the close of the article.
12 TYPES OF WOODPECKERS IN ARIZONA
Lewis’ Woodpecker, Acorn Woodpecker, Gila Woodpecker, Williamson’s Sapsucker, Red-naped Sapsucker, American Three-toed Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Ladder-backed Wogadlecker and Hairy Wogadlecker are the 12 types of woodpickers found in Arizona.
We’ll learn a bit about each of Arizona’s woodpeckers in the table below!
1. ACORN WOODPECKER
Length: 7.5-9.1 in
Weight: 2.3-3.2 oz
Wingspan: 13.8-16.9 in
Only parts of Central and Eastern Arizona are home to Acorn Woodpeckers, who have a very restricted range in North America. They reside in oak or pine-oak woodlands, where they feed on acorns and a variety of insects. They, like most woodpecker species, will visit suet feeders from time to time, but are less common than a Downy.
They’re well-known for putting nuts in granaries, which are holes bored in trees, and for up to 50,000 nuts at a time. Other animals are unable to remove them because they are jammed into these holes so tightly. They clearly have food in reserve, since it is becoming scarcer. They’ll fiercely defend their caches of food against anyone who tries to steal them.
2. RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER
Length: 7.5-8.3 in
Weight: 1.1-2.3 oz
Wingspan: 16.1-16.9 in
Throughout the winter, Southern and Western Arizona are home to the Red-naped Sapsucker, while during breeding season (Spring and Summer), they can be found across the state. Until 1983, when scientists discovered that they were actually two distinct species, they were closely related to Yellow-bellieds and were mistaken for the same species.
They drink sap from aspen, birch, and pine trees like other sapsuckers, but they also eat insects. Look for them early in the morning, when they are most active, and as early in the breeding season as possible (around mid-May). A good indication that a sapsucker is in the area is neat rows of holes in a sap-producing tree.
3. DOWNY WOODPECKER
Length: 5.5-6.7 in
Weight: 0.7-1.0 oz
Wingspan: 9.8-11.8 in
Because they do not migrate, you can find these tiny woodpeckers all year round in Northeast Arizona. They can be found nearly everywhere in the United States. They are the tiniest woodpeckers in the United States and Arizona, if not North America. Many times, the first to visit a new bird feeder are downy woodpeckers. They eat seeds like sunflower seeds, millet, and peanuts in addition to suet.
Their white spots on the backs and underbellies distinguish them, and they only grow to be about the size of a sparrow. A red patch will appear on top of the heads of males as well.
4. LADDER-BACKED WOODPECKER
Length: 6.3-7.1 in
Weight: 0.7-1.7 oz
Wingspan: 13.0 in
From late January to March, when the woodpeckers are mating and more active, look for Ladder-backed Woodpeckers. Parts of Central and Southern Arizona are home to ladder-backed Woodpeckers. While they may not be spotted at suet feeders, when offered mealworms, peanut butter, or black oil sunflower seeds, they will devour them.
If you want to attract a pair, leave those dead trees alone in your yard, as they commonly nest in them. Because they often live in deserts and thorn forests where cacti are abundant, ladder-backed Woodpeckers were formerly known as “Cactus Woodpeckers.”
5. HAIRY WOODPECKER
Length: 7.1-10.2 in
Weight: 1.4-3.4 oz
Wingspan: 13.0-16.1 in
You might be thinking, “Is that another Downy Woodpecker in this picture?” They do not look similar, but they do resemble one other. Hairy Woodpeckers may be found across most of Arizona, however they are less prevalent in the state’s southwest corner, near the California border.
These woodpeckers feature a considerably bigger beak than Downy’s, as well as being substantially bigger than him. They’re tough to distinguish from one another, and they look similar in every way. On average, I’ve discovered that they’re less frequent at birdfeeders.
6. NORTHERN FLICKER
Length: 11.0-12.2 in
Weight: 3.9-5.6 oz
Wingspan: 16.5-20.1 in
Much of North America, and all of the United States, are home to Northern Flickers in some form. They have a winter habitat in the Southwest of Arizona, but are year-round residents in the remainder of the state.
The size of a Hairy and a Pileated Woodpecker, these big woodpeckers are enormous. They’re among the most gorgeous birds I’ve seen in North America, and I enjoy seeing one in my yard.
The food of Northern Flickers is hunted on the ground rather than in trees, which sets them apart from other woodpeckers. They’re usually seen around during the day searching for inanimals amid dirt and leaves.
7. AMERICAN THREE-TOED WOODPECKER
Length: 8.3-9.1 in
Weight: 1.6-2.4 oz
Wingspan: 14.6-15.3 in
Arizona is one of the few states where the American Three-toed Woodpecker may be found, in addition to a few other states in the west northwest. They’re primarily only found in Central Arizona during the winter and are fairly uncommon in the state. They favor ruined, aged growth forests with numerous dead or burnt trees where they may capture insect larvae and mine for lice readily.
The Zygodactyl toes of the majority of woodpeckers are four. These woodpeckers, on the other hand, have just three toes as their name implies. Because of the leverage afforded by having just three toes, it is thought that the Three-toed Woodpecker may be able to lean back farther and strike a stronger blow.
Woodpeckers are not particularly abundant in the United States. They are seldom seen at feeders, if ever.
8. GILA WOODPECKER
Length: 8.7-9.4 in
Weight: 1.8-2.8 oz
Wingspan: 15.8-16.5 in
In Southern Arizona, this species is rather frequent, although it is only found in a few other states. The Gila Woodpecker has a reputation for thriving in treeless desert regions of California, Arizona, and New Mexico. They dig their nests in the world’s only surviving cactus, the saguaro, which grows in the parched places where they dwell. These giant cacti provide them with all of the food and shelter they need, as well as everything else.
American Kestrels, Elf Owls, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls, Ash-throated Flycatchers, Brown-crested Flycatchers, Purple Martins, Cactus Wrens and Lucy’s Warblers all take over the holes of Gila Woodpeckers after they have left. The source is from the 1960s, when George Harrison had a lot of success with it.
They resemble their cousin to the east, the Red-bellied Woodpecker, in terms of appearance, but they are quite different in actuality. They can be attracted to feeders with all the usual woodpecker food, such as suet, despite their rarity and restricted range.
9. WILLIAMSON’S SAPSUCKER
Length: 8.3-9.8 in
Weight: 1.6-1.9 oz
Wingspan: 17 inches
Only a few midwestern states, including Arizona, have Williamson’s Sapsuckers. They’re only found in the warmer months of the year, so you’ll have to keep an eye out for them as they pair up to mate in the northeast. They have a winter range in Central and Southeastern Arizona. The Sapsuckers go south from Colorado and Utah to Arizona and then Mexico throughout the winter.
They depend on coniferous trees for their sustenance, and extract the sap by drilling sapwells. Insects are also a source of food for sapsuckers.
Williamson’s Sapsuckers are mostly found in the Rocky Mountains’ woodlands and westward from there. They are uncommon in backyards. They prefer to nest in bigger, older trees and roost in natural or excavated cavities.
10. GILDED FLICKER
Length: 8.3-9.1 in
Weight: 1.9-2.3 oz
Wingspan: 16.9 in
One of the few places where the Gilded Flicker may be found is Arizona, much like the Gila Woodpecker. Except from Northeastern Arizona, where they are not really found, they are widespread in the state. They’re most frequent in the Sonoran Desert’s saguaro cactus woodlands. Because the bird’s range is so limited, little is known about it compared to what we know about the Northern Flicker, which is widely distributed across much of the United States.
The Northern Flicker and the Gilded Flicker are two species that appear to be almost identical. The golden yellow tail feathers of the Gilded Flicker are visible in the picture above, although they are not as apparent. Although they are not yet classified as endangered, their number has been declining steadily over time.
11. LEWIS’S WOODPECKER
Length: 10.2-11.0 in
Weight: 3.1-4.9 oz
Wingspan: 19.3-20.5 in
Woodpeckers are not particularly frequent in Arizona, although they may be observed at different periods of the year across most of the state. Their populations are frequently unpredictable, and they prefer to stay in pine forests and woods that have been firebrledged. Particularly during the acorn and nut storing season, when they roam about hunting for them. To last through the winter, they store these provisions in crannies.
Lewis’s Woodpeckers are unique among other woodpeckers in that they mainly eat insects in mid-air. Their flight has a graceful, crow-like quality because of their broad, rounded wings. Their coloration includes a pink belly, a crimson patch on the head, and a dark, iridescent green on their back and wings. It is also unusual.
12. ARIZONA WOODPECKER
Length: 7.1-7.9 in
Weight: 1.2-1.8 oz
Wingspan: 14.2 in
Only Arizona and New Mexico are home to the Arizona Woodpecker. The woodpeckers of both states have a limited range in the southern parts of the states. These woodpeckers live year-round in the northernmost tip of a large population strip that goes across Central Mexico. Arizona and New Mexico are two states in this region.
Between March and May, when both sexes are most vocal during the breeding season, you’ll have the best chance of spotting one of these guys. Many insects, larvae, nuts, berries, and other typical woodpecker meals are eaten by Arizona Woodpeckers. They breed in hollows cut in dead wood and reside in mature pine-oak woodlands.
HOW TO ATTRACT WOODPECKERS
Attracting woodpeckers to our feeders or yards is something we enjoy for many of us. Chickadees, titmice, and cardinals are just a few of the birds that frequent these areas. They’re harder to see and attract, but they’re easier to detect. How to attract woodpeckers to your yard is explained below.
- Many species of woodpeckers are known for visiting bird feeders, so offer them food they like. Provide both black sunflower seed and a suet feeder. A suet feeder with a tail prop section that will aid attract bigger woodpeckers is a must-have.
- Woodpeckers enjoy dead and rotting trees because they are simple to bore holes in and have a plenty of insect larvae for them to devour. Leave dead trees alone.
- Many species of woodpeckers will use nest boxes, so put them up. From May to 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 elderberries. Plant native fruit bearing plants and trees around your property.