To observe woodpeckers is a delight. Their ability to drill into trees at fast speeds without harming themselves is quite remarkable! We’ll look at 10 different woodpeckers in Idaho, as well as giving you some information about when and where you may see them, in this article. We’ll also offer some advice on how to entice woodpeckers to your yard at the end of the article.
10 SPECIES OF WOODPECKERS IN IDAHO
In North America, there are at least 17 different woodpecker species. Idaho is a fantastic location to discover woodpeckers, with ten species that spend at least part of the year here.
The American three-toed woodpecker, black-backed woodpecker, downy woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, Lewis’s woodpecker, Northern flicker, pileated woodpecker, red-naped sapsucker, and Williamson’s sapsucker are the 10 species of Idaho Woodpckers.
1. AMERICAN THREE-TOED WOODPECKER
- Scientific name: Picoides dorsalis
- Length: 8.3-9.1 in
- Weight: 1.6-2.4 oz
- Wingspan: 14.6-15.3 in
Idaho is one of the few places in the United States where the American Three-toed Woodpecker may be found, aside from a few other western states. Year-round, they are in the state. Idaho Panhandle, Nez Perce Clearwater, and Boise National Forests are some of the wooded areas in the northern part of the state where you may find them. They favor infested, aged growth woods where they may readily pick insect larvae and mine for insects since they like infested, old growth woods with numerous dead or burnt trees.
The four toes of woodpeckers are called Zygodactyl toes. These woodpeckers, on the other hand, only have three toes and are named as such. Because of the leverage provided by just three toes, it is thought that the three-toed woodpecker may be able to lean back farther and strike a more powerful blow to its target.
In the United States, woodpeckers are not particularly common. In the wild, they’re seldom seen at backyard feeders.
2. BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER
- Scientific name: Picoides arcticus
- Length: 9.1 in
- Weight: 2.1-3.1 oz
- Wingspan: 15.8-16.5 in
Between the ages of 1 and 8, black-backed woodpeckers are most often found in burnt woods. In woodlands where wildfires had happened, the solid black plumage on their backs helps them blend into charred trees. These burnt areas are home to large numbers of black-backed woodpeckers, who may live there for years and feast on the larvae of wood-boring beetles and other insects.
These woodpeckers aren’t sure how they find burnt woods, but they’ll typically show up just a few weeks after it’s happened. Like the American three-toed woodpecker, this species has just three toes. In un-burned woodlands, they’ll feed on bark beetle populations as well.
In the forests of northern Idaho, look for them at any time of year, especially after recent wildfires.
3. DOWNY WOODPECKER
- Scientific name: Dryobates pubescens
- Length: 5.5-6.7 in
- Weight: 0.7-1.0 oz
- Wingspan: 9.8-11.8 in
These tiny woodpeckers may be seen all year in Idaho, wherever you go. They’re found almost everywhere in the United States. They are North America’s smallest woodpeckers, and they’re also the tiniest. The white markings on the downy’s backs, as well as its pure white breast and belly, distinguish it from other birds. The top of a male’s head is crimson in color.
The most common woodpecker species to visit home bird feeders is the downy. They devour sunflower seeds, millet, and peanuts in addition to suet. Their tiny beak allows them access to the sugar water, so you may even see them visiting your hummingbird feeder.
4. HAIRY WOODPECKER
- Scientific name: Dryobates villosus
- Length: 7.1-10.2 in
- Weight: 1.4-3.4 oz
- Wingspan: 13.0-16.1 in
Maybe you’re wondering if this image depicts a different downy woodpecker. That isn’t the case, yet they do seem to be similar. Throughout the United States, hairy woodpeckers and downy woodpeckers coexist. When trying to distinguish between them, it also creates a lot of uncertainty.
In comparison to its body size, the hairy woodpecker is far more massive, with a beak that is much longer. You may learn how to distinguish them here, via an article on the subject.
In terms of habitat and diet, these two woodpeckers are extremely similar. They are found all year in Idaho, especially in the mountains. While they will visit backyard suet feeders, the hairy woodpecker is a bit more cautious of humans and is less frequently seen than the downy.
5. LEWIS’S WOODPECKER
- Scientific name: Melanerpes lewis
- Length: 10.2-11.0 in
- Weight: 3.1-4.9 oz
- Wingspan: 19.3-20.5 in
During the breeding season, Lewis’ woodpeckers stay in the panhandle and along the state’s western border, although they may be seen in southeastern Idaho during spring and fall migration. Their populations are often unpredictable, but they prefer to remain in pine forests and woods that have been burned.
During the breeding season, they roam about looking for acorn and nut deposits, resulting in a yearly migration of their fall-winter population. During the winter, they consume these foods and store them in nooks and crannies.
Lewis’s woodpeckers fly insects in the air, unlike most other woodpeckers. Their flight has a beautiful, crow-like feel because of their wide, rounded wings.
Most woodpeckers have black and white bodies, so their coloration is especially distinctive. Lewis’ have a pink belly, a crimson patch on the cheek, and a deep, iridescent green on their back and wings. They are rather vivid.
6. NORTHERN FLICKER
- Scientific name: Colaptes auratus
- 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 big woodpeckers are very prevalent in suburban areas. They’re also among my favorite birds in North America, in my opinion.
Unlike other woodpeckers, flickers prefer to forage for insects on the ground rather than in trees. Solid black bib, barred black and gray wings, and brown face on a gray head help you identify them by the black spots on their bellies.
Females do not have a red “mustache” that males do. The “red-shafted” variety of Idaho birds has vivid red feathers on the undersides of their wings and tail, and they are a crimson color.
Throughout the year, Northern Flickers may be seen across Idaho, and they will occasionally visit backyard suet feeders. You may observe them digging around for insects if you have some leaf piles in your yard.
7. PILEATED WOODPECKER
- Scientific name: Dryocopus pileatus
- Length: 15.8-19.3 in
- Weight: 8.8-12.3 oz
- Wingspan: 26.0-29.5 in
In Idaho, as well as throughout North America, the pileated woodpecker is the biggest of all woodpeckers. Its body is black, with a white striped face and a huge crimson crest. A red cheek stripe distinguishes male from female faces. The Idaho panhandle is home to the pileated woodpecker, which lives there year-round.
Look for mature forests if you want to see a pileated woodpecker. They enjoy rotting wood on ancient, dead trees. Although they are much less common visitors than other species, pileated woodpeckers will occasionally come to backyard feeders, and they are often too big for all but the biggest suet feeder.
8. RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER
- Scientific name: Sphyrapicus nuchalis
- Length: 7.5-8.3 in
- Weight: 1.1-2.3 oz
- Wingspan: 16.1-16.9 in
Before 1983, when scientists discovered that red-naped sapsuckers were actually two distinct species, they were considered to be the same species as yellow-bellied sapsuckers. Males have a completely red neck and ladies have a white neck with a crimson necklace, whereas both sexes feature a crimson forehead.
They drink sap from trees, aspen, birch, and pine, but also eat insects like other sapsuckers. A sap-producing tree with neat rows of holes is a sure sign that a sapsucker is present.
9. WHITE-HEADED WOODPECKER
- Scientific name: Dryobates albolarvatus
- Length: 8.3-9.1 in
- Weight: 1.9-2.3 oz
- Wingspan: 16.9 in
Only a few places in the United States are home to white-headed woodpeckers. They prefer pine-covered mountains and are seldom found in pine-free woodlands. They’re mostly only seen in the west, particularly between Boise and New Meadows, in Idaho’s Boise National Forest.
Look for these woodpeckers in pine forest habitats where there are a lot of ponderosa, Jeffery, Coulter, and sugar pines since they adore pine seeds and cones. They prefer to pull and peel the bark rather than drill into trees. To take advantage of the bugs present, they’ll also swarm to charred forests.
Except for their brilliant white heads and white stripes on their wings, white-headed woodpeckers are similar in size to an American Robin, with mostly black plumage. In addition to other woodpeckers, young men have a bright red patch on their skulls.
10. WILLIAMSON’S SAPSUCKER
- Scientific name: Sphyrapicus thyroideus
- Length: 8.3-9.8 in
- Weight: 1.6-1.9 oz
- Wingspan: 17 inches
Just a few midwestern states, including Idaho, have Williamson’s sapsuckers. Ponderosa state park, Alturas Lake, and Redfish Lake are among the places where they are most frequently seen in the state’s central region. During their breeding season, these sapsuckers merely come to Idaho, afterwards heading south for the winter.
Sap-wells are drilled to extract the sap of coniferous trees, which they feed on primarily. Males and femen have distinct looks. Males have black backs and crimson bellies, with a hint of crimson on the chin. The heads of females are brown, and their bodies are striped in black and white.
Williamson’s sapsuckers are primarily found in hilly woodlands and are uncommon in backyards. They prefer nesting in bigger, older trees and roost in natural or excavated cavities.
HOW TO ATTRACT WOODPECKERS
Those of us who adore watching birds in the yard want to attract as many different sorts as possible. Woodpeckers may be a bit more difficult to attract and prefer more particular foods than other songbirds, but they are relatively simple to attract with birdseed. Here are some ideas on how to make your yard more appealing to woodpeckers.
- Many kinds of woodpeckers are courageous enough to visit feeders, so offer them food they like. Suet is the best food for attracting woodpeckers, however some species will eat seeds and nuts. Make sure to acquire a suet feeder with a tail prop area that will appeal to bigger woodpecker species.
- Woodpeckers prefer dead and decaying trees with a lot of insect larvae for them to devour, so leave dead wood alone.
- The northern flicker and pileated woodpecker have been known to use nest boxes, so place up nest boxes.
- Woodpeckers may occasionally enjoy fruits and berries like dogwood, serviceberry, tupelo, mountain ash, strawberry, cherry, grapes, bayberry, holly, blueberries; mulberry; and elderberries.