To observe woodpeckers, you’ll have a lot of fun. It is extremely unique for them to be able to drill into trees at fast speeds without harming themselves. We’ll look at 10 species of woodpeckers in Montana, along with some information about where and when you might see them, in this article. We’ll also provide some advice on how to entice woodpeckers to your yard at the conclusion of the article.
10 WOODPECKERS IN MONTANA
In North America, at least 17 different species of woodpeckers may be found. Montana is a wonderful place to spot woodpeckers, with ten species that live here at least part of the year.
The American three-toed woodpecker, black-backed woodpecker, downy woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, Lewis’ Woodpeckers, Northern flicker, pileated woodpeckers, red-naped sapsucker, Williamson’s sapsucker and the red-headed woodpeckers are the 10 species of Montana woodpickers.
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
The American Three-toed Woodpecker may only be found in Montana, with a few other states in the west being exceptions. Year-round, they are in the state. Look in the western edge of the state, especially in Glacier National Park and the national forests around Missoula, for them in wooded areas. They like old growth woods with plenty of dead or burnt trees, since it’s easy to mine for insects and damage.
Woodpeckers have four toes, known as Zygodactyl toes. These woodpeckers, on the other hand, have just three toes, as the name implies. Because of the leverage afforded by just three toes, the three-toed woodpecker is thought to be able to lean back farther and deliver a stronger blow.
In the United States, woodpeckers are not particularly abundant. Backyard feeders are rarely visited by these birds.
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 one and eight, black-backed woodpeckers are most prevalent in burnt woods. In forests where wildfires had occurred, the solid black plumage on their backs helps them blend into charred trees. For years, black-backed woodpeckers will occupy these burnt areas, where they will feast on wood-boring beetle larvae and other insects larvae.
These woodpeckers, however, are unclear how they find burnt woods; nonetheless, they will occasionally show up days after a fire. Like the American three-toed woodpecker, this species has just three toes. In addition, they’ll forage in unburned woodlands, hunting down bark beetle populations.
In the forests of western Montana, look for them at any time of year, especially after recent fire tragedies.
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
Throughout Montana, you may find these little woodpeckers all year. They’re virtually ubiquitous in the United States. They are the woodpeckers with the smallest range in North America. The white dots on the downy’s backs, as well as its pure white chest and belly, distinguish it from the sparrow. A red patch can be seen on the back of a male’s head.
The most common woodpecker in your neighborhood is the downy, which visits bird feeders frequently. They devour sunflower seeds, millet, and peanuts in addition to suet. Their tiny beak enables them to sip sugar water from your hummingbird feeder, which you may witness them doing.
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
In this photograph, you may be wondering if you’re seeing another downy woodpecker. They don’t resemble each other, however they do seem similar. Downy woodpeckers and hairy woodpeckers may be found in the same regions of the United States. And if you’re trying to figure out which one is which, there’s a lot of confusion.
In comparison to its body size, the hairy woodpecker is considerably bulkier and has a longer beak. An article here can teach you how to distinguish between them.
In terms of habitat and food, these two woodpeckers are almost identical. Throughout Montana, they may be found all year. While they will visit backyard suet feeders, the hairy woodpecker is more retiring of humans than the downy woodpecker.
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 visit Montana from March through August. They prefer pine woodlands and burnt woodlands, but their numbers are usually unpredictable. They are often seen in such places.
Their fall-winter population frequently ends up in different locations year-to-year, as they travel around looking for stores of acorns and nuts after breeding season. They store these foods in hidden areas throughout the winter, eating them from crevices.
Lewis’s woodpeckers, unlike most other species, capture insects in midair. Their flying has a graceful, crow-like look because of their large, rounded wings.
Lewis’s woodpeckers, unlike those of most other species, are insect catchers in the air. Their flight has a beautiful, crow-like quality due to their large, rounded wings.
Although most woodpeckers have black and white bodies, their coloring is distinctive. With a pink belly, a crimson patch on the cheek, and a black, iridescent green on its back and wings, Lewis’ are quite vibrant.
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-sized woodpeckers may be found in abundance in yards. They are, in my opinion, some of North America’s most colorful birds. Flickers, unlike most woodpeckers, prefer to find insects on the ground rather than in the trees.
The black dots on their bellies, solid black bib, barred black and gray wings, and light brown and gray head help to identify them. Males will have a mustache, but females will not.
The yellow-shafted and red-shafted varieties are available in the United States, and Montana has them both! The color of the mustache on males and beneath the wings and tail are the only significant distinctions. When they interbreed and create a hybrid, you may even observe something that resembles a mix between both.
During the year, northern flickers will visit suet feeders if they are offered. They are common across Montana. Leaf mounds in the yard are another effective way to entice them, as you may see them digging for insects.
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 Montana and North America, the pileated woodpecker is the biggest of all woodpeckers. The body is black, with a black and white striped face and a huge red crest. Females do not have a red cheek stripe, but males do. Pileated woodpeckers are most often observed in the western border and northwest corner of the country, but they stay year-round.
Look for mature woods to find a pileated woodpecker. They prefer rotting wood in old, dead trees. While they are less prevalent than other species and often too big for all but the biggest suet feeder, pileated woodpeckers do occasionally visit backyard feeders.
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
Until 1983, when scientists discovered that red-naped sapsuckers and yellow-bellied sapsuckers were two separate species, red-naped sapsuckers were considered to be the same species. Both men and women have a crimson forehead, although men have a completely crimson neck while girls have a white neck with crimson “necklace.
They drink sap from aspen, birch, and pine trees, but also insectivore like other sapsuckers. A sap-producing tree with neat rows of holes is a surefire sign that a sapsucker is nearby.
Search for them in the morning when they are most active and early in the breeding season (mid-May) in Montana. In the summer, they stay in Montana, and in the fall, they leave. The state’s central and western regions have the highest concentrations of them.
9. 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 Montana, are home to Williamson’s sapsuckers. The majority of them are located in the state’s far west. During the breeding season, these sapsuckers come to Montana, where they spend the winter.
Sap extraction is done by drilling sap-wells, and they primarily feed on sap from coniferous trees. Males and femen are quite distinct from one other. The backs of males are black, with a little crimson on the chin. The bellies are vivid yellow. Brown-headed females have black and white striped bodies.
Williamson’s sapsuckers, which are uncommon in suburban areas, prefer hilly woodlands. They prefer to nest in bigger, elder trees and roost in natural or excavated holes.
10. RED-HEADED WOODPECKER
- Scientific name: Melanerpes erythrocephalus
- Length: 7.5-9.1 in
- Weight: 2.0-3.2 oz
- Wingspan: 16.5 in
The range of the red-headed woodpeckers extends into Montana, far west. Throughout the breeding season in the spring and summer, they are typically only visible in the eastern half of the state.
The red-headed woodpecker’s crimson/crimson head and black and white color-blocked body are easily distinguished. They’re less regular in the backyard than other types of woodpeckers, and will occasionally visit suet feeders. They’ll eat a variety of nuts and fruits in addition to suet.
Acorns and beech nuts are their favorite foods, which they store in caches for later use. They are one of only four species of woodpeckers that do so. These woodpeckers go even farther, coating the meal with bark or wood to make it harder to detect.
HOW TO ATTRACT WOODPECKERS
Anyone who enjoys watching birdwatching in the back yard wishes to see as many species as feasible. Woodpeckers can be a little more difficult to attract and prefer more particular foods than many songbirds. Here are some ways you can make your yard more appealing to woodpeckers.
- Many species of woodpeckers are courageous enough to approach feeders, so offer them food they like. Suet is the finest food for attracting woodpeckers, while other species will consume seeds and nuts. Make sure to purchase a suet feeder with a tail prop area that will attract bigger woodpecker species.
- Woodpeckers like dead and dying trees that are simple to bore holes in and have plenty of insect larvae for them to devour. Leave dead trees alone.
- Northern flickers and pileated woodpeckers are two species that have been known to use nest boxes.
- Woodpeckers may occasionally enjoy fruits and berries like dogwood, serviceberry, tupelo, mountain ash, strawberry, cherry, grapes, bayberry, holly, blueberries, apples and mulberry.
- Woodpeckers will utilize bird baths, just like any other birds, so make sure you have a water source accessible, such as with a water mover or solar fountain to help attract them.