There are 11 different woodpecker species in Colorado, which is a reflection of the diversity in North America. Throughout this piece, we’ll examine each species and tell you where and when you might see one in Colorado. At the end of the article, we also offer you some advice on how to attract woodpeckers to your property.
11 SPECIES OF WOODPECKERS IN COLORADO
The three-toed woodpecker, downy woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, ladder-backed woodpecker, Lewis’Woodpeckers all have 11 species of woodpecckers in Colorado. The acorn Woodpeckerek and red-bellied Woodpeckerek are two of the rarest.
1. AMERICAN THREE-TOED WOODPECKER
Length: 8.3-9.1 in
Weight: 1.6-2.4 oz
Wingspan: 14.6-15.3 in
In Canada, these woodpeckers are far more prevalent. Colorado is one of the few places in the United States where the American three-toed woodpecker may be found, aside from a few other states in the west.
Seek them in the middle of the state, especially in mountainous and forested regions. They prefer damaged, old growth woods where they may readily extract insect larvae and mine for bugs since they find it easier to do so.
2. DOWNY WOODPECKER
Length: 5.5-6.7 in
Weight: 0.7-1.0 oz
Wingspan: 9.8-11.8 in
These little woodpeckers may be found across Colorado at any time of year. They’re virtually ubiquitous in the United States. They are North America’s tiniest woodpecker species. The most common species of woodpecker to visit bird feeders in the backyard is the downy.
Suet is a favorite food of the Downy Woodpeckers, but they also eat seeds such as sunflower seeds and millet. The white dots on their backs, as well as their pure white chest and belly, distinguish them from other birds. They are only a few inches tall. The back of a male’s head is red.
3. HAIRY WOODPECKER
Length: 7.1-10.2 in
Weight: 1.4-3.4 oz
Wingspan: 13.0-16.1 in
You may be assuming that this downy-looking woodpecker is a lot like the downy. Downy woodpeckers and hairy woodpeckers frequently coexist in the United States. and make it more difficult to figure out which is which when you’re looking for it.
In comparison to its body size, the hairy has a much bigger beak and is considerably bulkier. You may learn how to tell them apart with the help of our article.
In every way except habitat and diet, these two woodpeckers are remarkably similar. They may be found all year in Colorado. While they will visit backyard suet feeders, the hairy woodpecker is a little more wary of humans than the downy woodpecker.
4. LADDER-BACKED WOODPECKER
Length: 6.3-7.1 in
Weight: 0.7-1.7 oz
Wingspan: 13.0 in
Look for pinyon-juniper woodlands in Colorado’s southeastern corner for ladder-backed woodpeckers. Since they feed mostly on insects in the wild, they aren’t often seen at suet feeders. When given the option, you may try to attract them with mealworms, peanut butter, and black oil sunflower seeds.
Their back is striped with long, horizontal white stripes that make up a ladder’s rungs. They have little black spots on their white belly. The top of the males’ head is striped with a long crimson stripe, while the females’ has a black stripe.
If you want to attract a pair of ladder-backed woodpeckers, leave any dead trees in your yard alone. They prefer to nest in dead trees. Because they frequently live in deserts and thorn forests where cacti are found, they were once known as “cactus woodpeckers.”
5. LEWIS’S WOODPECKER
Length: 10.2-11.0 in
Weight: 3.1-4.9 oz
Wingspan: 19.3-20.5 in
Lewis’ woodpeckers can be found in Colorado’s central and southwestern regions. Their populations are frequently unpredictable, and they prefer to dwell in pine forests and scorched woods. During the acorn and nut collecting season, they roam around looking for places to store them. During the winter, they store these foods in nooks and crannies to keep them safe.
Lewis’ Woodpeckers, unlike most other woodpeckers, feed mostly on midair insects. Their flight has a graceful, crow-like appearance due to their broad, rounded wings.
Since most woodpeckers have black and white bodies, their coloration is also unusual. With a pink belly, a crimson patch on the face, and a dark iridescent green on their back and wings, Lewis’ are rather vivid.
6. NORTHERN FLICKER
Length: 11.0-12.2 in
Weight: 3.9-5.6 oz
Wingspan: 16.5-20.1 in
In the United States, these medium to huge woodpeckers are abundant in suburban gardens. They’re one of the most vivid birds in North America, in my opinion.
Flickers prefer to find insects on the ground rather than in trees, and unlike other woodpeckers, they often feed on them. The black markings on their bellies, thick black bib, barred black and gray wings, and light brown and gray head will help you identify them. Males will grow a mustache, while females will not.
In the United States, there are two color forms: the “yellow-shafted” and the “red-shafted.” Colorado is home to both! The hue of the underwing and tail, as well as the hue of the males’ mustaches, are the most substantial distinctions. When they occasionally interbreed and create a hybrid, you may observe something that resembles a mix of both.
Throughout Colorado, northern flickers may be seen all year, feeding on suet in backyards.
7. RED-HEADED WOODPECKER
Length: 7.5-9.1 in
Weight: 2.0-3.2 oz
Wingspan: 16.5 in
The red-headed woodpeckers range in Colorado is located on the extreme western edge. They’re only seen in the state’s eastern region during the spring and summer. Most of the state heads east during the winter.
The bright red/crimson head and black and white color-blocked body of the red-headed woodpecker stands out immediately. They’re less frequent backyard visitors than several other kinds of woodpeckers, and they’ll occasionally visit suet feeders. They will eat a variety of nuts and fruits in addition to suet.
Red-headed woodpeckers may be quite aggressive, and they are known to destroy eggs by hammering them or even perforating them in order to kill the young. Acorns and beech nuts are their favorite foods, and they are one of only four species of woodpeckers that store theirs for later use. These woodpeckers go a step further, coating their stash in bark or wood to make it more difficult for predators to see.
8. RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER
Length: 7.5-8.3 in
Weight: 1.1-2.3 oz
Wingspan: 16.1-16.9 in
Until 1983, when researchers discovered that red-naped sapsuckers and yellow-bellied sapsuckers were two distinct species, red-naped sapsuckers were considered to be the same species. Males have a completely red throat and females have a white throat with a red necklace, while both sexes have a crimson forehead.
Like other sapsuckers, they eat insects in addition to drinking sap from aspen, birch, and pine trees. Early in the breeding season (late-May) and early in the morning, when they are most active, look for them in western and central Colorado. Throughout the summer, they stay in Colorado, but then move south for the winter.
A sapsucker is in the area if there are neat rows of holes in a sap-producing tree.
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 Colorado, have populations of Williamson’s Sapsuckers. In the state’s central and southwestern regions, they are most common. During the breeding season, these sapsuckers only come to Colorado, then spend the winter travelling south.
They drill sap-wells to extract the sap from coniferous trees, which is their primary food. Males and femen look quite distinct from each other. Males have a bit of red on their chins and black backs with yellow bellies. The heads of females are brown, and their bodies are striped in black and white.
Williamson’s sapsuckers are mostly seen in the hilly woodlands, and are uncommon in backyards. They prefer to nest in bigger, older trees, and roost in natural or excavated holes.
RARE WOODPECKERS IN COLORADO
10. ACORN WOODPECKER
Length: 7.5-9.1 in
Weight: 2.3-3.2 oz
Wingspan: 13.8-16.9 in
In North America, Acorn Woodpeckers have a tiny geographical range, and Colorado is not considered part of it. They’ve been spotted in the state an estimated dozen times. Thus, on rare occasions, they stray from their Arizona and New Mexico homes and explore farther north.
Granaries are holes bored in trees where they store nuts, and they can hold up to 50,000 nuts in some cases. Other animals are unable to pull them out of these holes because they are jammed so tightly. They’re obviously saving this food for when it gets more difficult to find. They’ll also keep anything that tries to steal from these food stores at bay.
11. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER
Length: 9.4 in
Weight: 2.0-3.2 oz
Wingspan: 13.0-16.5 in
Since they are a bird of the eastern United States, Colorado is not considered to be part of the red-bellied woodpecker’s range. Yet, from time to time, a limited number of people from Kansas will travel into eastern Colorado.
These medium-sized woodpeckers, which eat both suet and peanuts, are rather common at feeders. They have a pink belly, as the name suggests, but it is often difficult to detect.
HOW TO ATTRACT WOODPECKERS
Those of us who appreciate seeing different sorts of birds in the wild want to attract as many as possible. Woodpeckers are a little more difficult to attract and prefer more specific foods than other songbirds, so they may take a while to attract. To make your yard more appealing to woodpeckers, here are a few suggestions.
- Many types of woodpeckers are bold enough to visit feeders and offer food they enjoy. Suet is the finest source of food for attracting woodpeckers, however some species will eat seeds and nuts. A suet feeder with a tail prop zone that will appeal to bigger woodpecker kinds is a must-have.
- Woodpeckers like dead and dying trees that are simple to bore holes in and have enough insect larvae for them to devour. Leave dead trees alone.
- Northern flickers and pileated woodpeckers have both been known to use nest boxes.
- Woodpeckers may occasionally enjoy fruits and berries such as dogwood, serviceberry, tupelo, mountain ash, strawberry, cherry, grapes, bayberry, holly, blueberries and elderberries. Plant native fruit-bearing plants and trees.
- Woodpeckers, like other birds, will utilize bird baths if they have access to water, so make sure you keep a water source accessible and install a water mover or solar fountain to attract them.