In the United States, there are roughly 300 species of woodpeckers, with 22 of them residing here. Woodpeckers are found in Kentucky, according to the seven species I’ve identified. Many of these seven species are permanent residents in Kentucky, while others only visit for part of the year.
We’ll discuss all seven woodpeckers species found in Kentucky in this article. A image will be provided for each species, along with a little information about its size, a short description, and where and how it may be found in Kentucky.
(Unfortunately, the Red-cockaded Woodpecker was removed from Kentucky in the early 2000s, thus they are not on this list of woodpeckers in Kentucky.)
We’ll discuss how to lured woodpeckers to your property at the conclusion of this article.
WOODPECKERS IN STATE
1. DOWNY WOODPECKER
Length: 5.5-6.7 in
Weight: 0.7-1.0 oz
Wingspan: 9.8-11.8 in
The Downy Woodpecker may be found across Kentucky throughout the year, and it is the smallest of all woodpeckers in North America. Suet, peanuts, mixed seed, or black sunflower seed are all extremely common at feeders and draw them in. Downys, along with chickadees and titmice, are always among the first to visit my new feeder whenever I put one up in my yard. They aren’t migratory and can be found all year round.
They’ll hammer trees for insect larvae or feed on berries and acorns, in addition to being frequent visitors at bird feeders. Drinking nectar from a hummingbird feeder is not uncommon for Downy Woodpeckers. Nests of downy woodpeckers are more likely to be found on dead trees or branches.
2. HAIRY WOODPECKER
Length: 7.1-10.2 in
Weight: 1.4-3.4 oz
Wingspan: 13.0-16.1 in
The Hairy Woodpecker, who appears to be identical to the Downy, is next. Except for the Hairy’s larger size, they may be difficult to distinguish. They’re displayed side by side in the photograph below. The Hairy is on the right, while the Downy is on the left. The Hairy Woodpecker is substantially bigger and has a longer beak, so the Downy shot is taken a bit higher up, making the size difference difficult to see.
In Kentucky and the rest of the United States, the Hairy Woodpecker is a year-round resident. They eat all of the same things as their little brother, the Downy, and are commonly seen at bird feeders. It’s quite likely that you’ve seen both of them, assuming they were the same species. Here’s a bit more information on the distinctions between a Hairy and Downy Woodpecker in this piece we wrote.
3. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER
Length: 9.4 in
Weight: 2.0-3.2 oz
Wingspan: 13.0-16.5 in
Throughout the year, red-bellied woodpeckers may be found across Kentucky. They’re roughly similar in size to Hairy Woodpeckers, but they’re substantially bigger than Downy Woodpeckers. They also like to feed birds at birdfeeders, especially suet feeders.
When you scroll down to the next woodpecker in Kentucky, you’ll see the difference. At first glance, you notice their red heads, but resist the urge to call them Red-headed Woodpeckers. Although the red stomach of Red-bellied Woodpeckers is more of a delicate red, it is typically unobtrusive when they are perched against a tree or feeding. To distinguish them, look for their black and white striped wings as well as a red mohawk down their neck.
4. RED-HEADED WOODPECKER
Length: 7.5-9.1 in
Weight: 2.0-3.2 oz
Wingspan: 16.5 in
Red-headed Woodpeckers are a common sight throughout Kentucky all year long, but they are less prevalent at birdfeeders than the first three on this list. These creatures may be spotted around bird feeders before darting to a tree to hide the delicious morsels in crevices or on the bark for another day. I spoke to one individual who had been compiling a life list for 55 years and had only seen one red-headed woodpecker in recent years. Red-headed woodpeckers are a real treat to see. In most situations, they are difficult to find.
Insects, seeds, and berries are the major foods of red-headed woodpeckers. When it comes to woodpeckers, they are also regarded as some of the most skilled flycatchers, and they frequently store live insects in tree bark for later consumption. Their vivid red heads and black and white bodies distinguish them from one another. They have been losing population for some time, and in some areas, they are becoming increasingly scarce to encounter.
5. PILEATED WOODPECKER
Length: 15.8-19.3 in
Weight: 8.8-12.3 oz
Wingspan: 26.0-29.5 in
Pileated Woodpeckers may be found throughout Kentucky year-round, although they are less frequent than other species at suet feeders. In Kentucky and North America, they are the biggest species of woodpeckers. Like other woodpeckers, they will readily accept suet feeders, but they are difficult to attraction and may be elusive. I’ve been trying to get this bird to my yard for a long time, but I haven’t seen one yet in my new home.
If you have any on your property, they’ll enjoy dead and dying trees, and if you build a nest box, they might even mate. They can drill enormous holes in big trees in mature woods for nesting and prefer huge trees. Carpenter ants are their primary source of nutrition, but they also eat beetle larvae, termites, other insects, fruits, and nuts.
6. NORTHERN FLICKER
Length: 11.0-12.2 in
Weight: 3.9-5.6 oz
Wingspan: 16.5-20.1 in
Backyard birds include Northern Flickers, which are colorful birds that may be seen across Kentucky. They mostly eat ants from the ground, picking through leaves and dirt with their long tongues, though they do visit feeders on occasion. They’ll eat insects, berries, sunflower seeds, and thistle in addition to the ants.
These birds do drum on trees frequently as a form of communication, even though they find their food on the ground. Like most other woodpeckers, they prefer to nest in ancient and decomposing trees. The yellow on their tails, black bibs, and red on the back of their necks distinguish Northern Flickers from other birds. They’re substantially bigger than a Hairy Woodpecker, yet significantly smaller than a Pileated Woodpecker in terms of size.
7. YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER
Length: 7.1-8.7 in
Weight: 1.5-1.9 oz
Wingspan: 13.4-15.8 in
At bird feeders, yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are uncommon, although they may appear at suet feeders on occasion. While hunting for insects or collecting sap, they are more likely to be seen on tree limbs. Sapsuckers will bite into birch and maple trees, puncturing holes with their bills and sucking as much sap as possible with their lengthy tongues.
Kentucky has a non-breeding population of these woodpeckers, which are about the size of an American Robin. Therefore, in the winter before they migrate north to breed, you have the greatest chance of seeing one. The underbodies of yellow-bellied sapsuckers are light, and their chests and head feathers are red. They have black beaks.
HOW TO ATTRACT WOODPECKERS
Attracting woodpeckers to our feeders or yards is something we all look forward to. They’re just as prevalent as chickadees, titmice, or cardinals, and they add a little spice to the mix. They are more difficult to notice and attract, though. Here are some ways to entice woodpeckers to your yard.
- Many species of woodpeckers are known for visiting bird feeders, so offer them food they like. Offer both black sunflower seed and a suet feeder. Be sure to get a suet feeder with a tail prop area that will help attract larger woodpeckers.
- Woodpeckers prefer dead and dying trees with plenty of bug larvae for them to consume, so leave dead trees alone.
- Many woodpeckers species will use nest boxes that have been put up. From May to July, pileated woodpeckers use nesting holes.
- Woodpeckers may occasionally enjoy fruits and berries such as dogwood, serviceberry, tupelo, mountain ash, strawberry, cherry, grapes, bayberry, holly, blueberries, and apples.
- Woodpeckers, like other birds, will utilize bird baths, so make sure you have a water source accessible. A water mover or solar fountain is ideal to help attract them. To prevent the fountain from ceasing every time the sun goes behind a cloud, solar fountains with batteries perform best.