In the Great Lakes Region, Illinois is situated in the midwestern United States. It is the country’s sixth most populated city and the 25th most geographical area. The state’s diverse range of habitats supports a wide variety of birds and animals. In Illinois today, we’ll be focusing on the seven types of woodpeckers and where and when they can be found.
There are numerous wetlands in the state, and the interior of Illinois is mostly plains and farmlands, with Lake Michigan to the north, the Mississippi River, Ohio River, and Wabash River forming its boundaries. Numerous other rivers and streams run through it. Woodpeckers may thrive in a variety of settings, including woodlands and forests, that include these habitats.
SPECIES OF WOODPECKERS IN ILLINOIS – 7 SPECIES WITH PICTURES
Woodpeckers are found in Illinois and may be seen year-round or during set periods of the year. There are seven species. You may read a list of all 17 woodpecker species in North America by clicking here if you want to learn more about other types of woodpeckers found in the United States and Canada.
Just one species, the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker, is not present year-round out of the seven different species of woodpeckers found in the state. Red-headed Woodpeckers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers, Hairy Woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, and Pileated Woodpeckers are the only ones that can be found throughout all of Illinois during any season.
The Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker is the only one of the state’s seven species of woodpeckers that isn’t present all year. Red-headed Woodpeckers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers, Hairy Woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, and Pileated Woodpeckers are among the other species that may be found throughout Illinois at all times of year.
1. RED-HEADED WOODPECKER
Length: 7.5-9.1 in
Weight: 2.0-3.2 oz
Wingspan: 16.5 in
While the population of Red-headed Woodpeckers has been declining, they can be found all year in Illinois. The head of this bird is covered in stunning crimson plumage, much like its name suggests. With a thick, white band across their wings, their upper parts are mostly black. These are medium-sized woodpeckers with short, muscular bills that make them great for hammering into trees. Woodpeckers, including red-headed woodpeckers, prefer woodlands and forests with open understories and clearings. They may be found in a variety of conditions such as groves, wetlands, and farmlands and orchards.
These woodpeckers are exceptional foreshadowists and will store supplementary food in tree nooks for later use. In addition to fruit, berries, acorns, and beech nuts, they consume a varied diet that includes mostly insects. Little rodents, earthworms, and the eggs and nestlings of other birds are among the foods they consume. The red-headed woodpecker’s distinctive, loud call and loud drumming as it forages are another important indication that someone is nearby.
2. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER
Length: 9.4 in
Weight: 2.0-3.2 oz
Wingspan: 13.0-16.5 in
Year-round, Illinois is home to the red-bellied woodpecker. In reality, their population has probably grown steadily in recent decades as they have extended their range north. Their adaptability may be the reason for their success: They can flourish in a variety of environments, such as swamps, forests, woodlands, and cities, as well as parks and suburbs. They’re opportunistic feeders who’ll consume both insects and plants if they have enough of it. Little reptiles and fish, as well as other bird eggs, might be eaten on rare occasions by these birds.
Red-bellied Woodpeckers’ bellies are rather pale, and the red on their heads is more vivid, despite their name. They’re black and white striped woodpeckers that are medium in size. Look for them on the bark of big trees and near major branches. Instead of drilling, they peel and pick the bark off of the trees, much like other woodpeckers. They’re frequently loud throughout the spring and summer, so listen for their rolling call for better luck.
3. DOWNY WOODPECKER
Length: 5.5-6.7 in
Weight: 0.7-1.0 oz
Wingspan: 9.8-11.8 in
Although being tiny, the Downy Woodpeckers have a few benefits as a result of their size. They can get to places that bigger woodpeckers can’t reach, like tall weed stalk and plant gall stalks. They often join mixed flocks of little birds, such as nuthatches and chickadees. Predators are less likely to attack you, and food is more likely to be discovered. The most likely woodpecker species to use backyard feeding devices, such as suet blocks, is the Downy Woodpecker.
With black and white checked plumage on their backs and stark white bellies, these woodpeckers resemble tiny versions of Hairy Woodpeckers. Males have a tiny red cap on their heads, as well. In Illinois, they’re year-round hummingbirds that are quite numerous and ubiquitous. Hairy Woodpeckers may be found in most forests, woodlands, and river areas, but prefer deciduous trees. Backyards and other suburban locales are frequently visited.
4. HAIRY WOODPECKER
Length: 7.1-10.2 in
Weight: 1.4-3.4 oz
Wingspan: 13.0-16.1 in
Except for their size and length of the bill, Hairy Woodpeckers resemble Downy Woodpeckers greatly in appearance. They have checkering on their backs and are black and white in coloration. They can be found across Illinois year-round, frequently in the same places as Downy Woodpeckers: woodlands, forests, and river forests. They don’t appear in urban areas, parks, and suburbs as often as Downy Woodpeckers because to their larger size.
Hairy Woodpeckers may frequently be seen perched on large, main branches or the sides of tree trunks. These woodpeckers are particularly eager in their hunt, frequently peeking and peeling bark in the hopes of discovering insects like wood-boring beetles or larvae. Foraging on fallen trees or other rotting or dead wood is another habit of theirs, so check these areas for luck if you’re looking for them.
5. NORTHERN FLICKER
Length: 11.0-12.2 in
Weight: 3.9-5.6 oz
Wingspan: 16.5-20.1 in
In Illinois, where they are quite common and widespread, Northern Flickers are year-round residents. Their numbers, however, have been progressively dwindling, perhaps owing to breeding competition with invasive starlings. In comparison to the other woodpeckers on this list, these huge woodpeckers have a distinctive coloration.
They have a lot of black-colored polkadots and lines on their undersides, and their bodies are covered with grey-brown plumage. Birds in the east have yellow underwings, while birds in the west have red underwings, and these vibrant splashes of color can be seen on them when they’re in flight. When they’re flying, they have a prominent white rump patch.
Woodlands with a lot of open space and on the outskirts of forests are common sites for Northern Flickers. They prefer to forage on the ground, using their curved beak to dig for ants and beetles, so keep your eyes lowered while searching for them. They will occasionally capture insects in midair and perch on branches to eat berries.
6. PILEATED WOODPECKER
Length: 15.8-19.3 in
Weight: 8.8-12.3 oz
Wingspan: 26.0-29.5 in
In Illinois, Pileated Woodpeckers may be found year-round, although they are scarce. In the 18th and 19th centuries, their numbers fell as eastern forests were cut down. If one does happen to be present, however, it should be straightforward to locate. Pileated Woodpeckers are the biggest woodpeckers in North America, measuring about the size of a crow and having a tall, bright red crest on top of their skulls that stands out even amid dense woods. Their loud whinnies, as well as the deep drumming they create while digging wood, are a surefire way to announce their presence.
These woodpeckers may be found in broad, thick woods and woodlands, particularly deciduous or mixed deciduous-coniferous woods. They forage for insects, primarily carpenter ants, on fallen lumber and rotting and dead wood. Carpetter ants take up to 60% of their diet when they rely on this type of food. Except for their crests, Pileated Woodpeckers have mostly black and white plumage, with brilliant white stripes running down the sides of their necks, as do other woodpeckers.
7. YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER
Length: 7.1-8.7 in
Weight: 1.5-1.9 oz
Wingspan: 13.4-15.8 in
In the winter, non-breeding Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers can be found in southern Illinois, but only during migration can you catch them in the upper state. During the breeding season, in the spring and summer, they journey north, covering most of Canada, before returning south to overwinter in the southeastern United States and Central America. Although they no longer nest in some places where they used to nest, they are common and widespread.
Keep an eye out for rows of tiny, evenly spaced holes in wood while hunting for Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers. Since they drill these sap wells to release the sap inside, these holes are a tell-tale sign that a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is nearby. During the winter, they consume insects and fruits, as well as berries and berries, with particular emphasis on tree tissues such as cambium. The bellies of yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are white, with red foreheads and black and white upper parts. The throats of males, like those of females, are red.
HOW TO ATTRACT WOODPECKERS
Attracting woodpeckers to our feeders or yards is something we enjoy for many people. They’re a little more exciting than chickadees, titmice, or cardinals and they’re quite as common. Yet, they are more difficult to detect and attract. Woodpeckers may be attracted to your yard by following these suggestions.
- Many different types of woodpeckers are known for visiting bird feeders, so offer them food they enjoy. Consider placing a suet feeder alongside the black sunflower seed. Make sure to purchase a suet feeder with a tail prop area that will draw in bigger woodpeckers.
- Woodpeckers prefer dead and decaying trees that are simple to bore holes in and provide a lot of insect larvae for them to devour. Leave dead wood alone.
- Many species of woodpeckers will utilize nest boxes that have been placed up. From May to July, pileated woodpeckers use nesting platforms.
- Woodpeckers may occasionally enjoy fruits and berries like dogwood, serviceberry, tupelo, mountain ash, strawberry, cherry, grapes, bayberry, holly, blueberries; mulberry; brambles; and elderberries.
- Woodpeckers will use bird baths, just like other birds, so have a water source available, preferably with a water mover or solar fountain to help attract them. To ensure that the fountain doesn’t stop every time the sun goes behind a cloud, solar fountains with batteries are best.