In North America, there are numerous distinct species of woodpeckers, with seven of them present in New Jersey. We’ll look at each species and discuss where and when you might see one, as well as whether or not they feed backyard birds in this article. A few suggestions on how to entice woodpeckers to your property are included at the conclusion of the article.
7 SPECIES OF WOODPECKERS IN NEW JERSEY
Downy woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, northern flicker, pileated woodpecker, red-headed woodpecker, red-bellied woodpecker, and yellow-bellied sapsucker are the seven species of New Jersey’s birds.
1. 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 little woodpeckers may be found all year in New Jersey, no matter where you go. They’re practically ubiquitous in the United States. They are the North American woodpeckers’ smallest species.
The white patches on their backs, as well as the clean white chest and belly, distinguish the downy from other birds. A red patch of skin on the back of a male’s head.
The most common woodpecker species to visit bird feeders in the backyard is the downy. They like suet, but they also consume sunflower seeds, millet, and peanuts in addition to seeds. Their tiny beak allows them access to the sugar water, so you may even see them visiting your hummingbird feeder.
2. HAIRY WOODPECKER
- Scientific name: Dryobates villosus
- Length: 7.1-10.2 in
- Weight: 1.4-3.4 oz
- Wingspan: 13.0-16.1 in
If you’re confused about whether this photo depicts a downy woodpecker, don’t worry. They do not resemble one another, but they do seem similar. Around the United States, hairy woodpeckers and downy woodpeckers coexist in the same regions. When it comes to determining which is which, you’ll create a lot of confusion.
In comparison to its body size, the hairy woodpecker is substantially bigger, with a longer beak. You may learn how to distinguish them using this page.
In terms of habitat and diet, these two woodpeckers are very similar. They can be found all year in New Jersey. The hairy woodpecker is more retiring than the downy, and although they will visit backyard suet feeders, they aren’t as frequently seen.
3. 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-sized woodpeckers are widespread in backyards. They’re also one of the most gorgeous birds in North America, in my opinion.
Unlike other woodpeckers, flickers prefer to find insects on the ground rather than in trees, and they mainly eat them. The black patches on their bellies, solid black bib, crimson patch on the back of their necks, and barred black and gray wings are all identifying features. A black “mustache” is seen on males.
The yellow-shafted variety can be found in New Jersey, and their wings and tail are both bright yellow on the undersides.
During the year, Northern Flickers may be found all throughout New Jersey, and suet can help you attract them.
4. 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 New Jersey and North America, the pileated woodpecker is the biggest of all woodpeckers. The body is black, with a white striped face and a large red crest. The red cheek stripe on males is visible, but not on females.
Throughout the state, pileated woodpeckers may be seen, although they are more prevalent in the north.
Look for mature woods for a pileated woodpecker. They prefer rotted wood on ancient, dead trees. While they are less frequent guests than other species, pileated woodpeckers do visit backyard mealers on occasion, and they are often too big for all but the biggest suet feeder.
5. RED-HEADED WOODPECKER
- Scientific name: Melanerpes erythrocephalus
- Length: 7.5-9.1 in
- Weight: 2.0-3.2 oz
- Wingspan: 16.5 in
The red-headed woodpecker’s stark crimson head and black and white color-blocked body distinguish it instantly. They may visit suet feeders on occasion, although they are less common in the yard than other kinds of woodpeckers. They will consume a variety of nuts and fruits in addition to suet.
Acorns and beech nuts are one of only four woodpeckers species that store their meal for later usage, and they are particularly fond of them. These woodpeckers, on the other hand, go one step further and hide their food behind bark or wood in order to better blend in.
In New Jersey you can find them throughout the state, but more commonly during the breeding season.
6. RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER
- Scientific name: Melanerpes carolinus
- Length: 9.4 in
- Weight: 2.0-3.2 oz
- Wingspan: 13.0-16.5 in
Throughout New Jersey and much of the eastern United States, the red-bellied woodpecker lives year-round. Feeders and in backyards, these medium-sized woodpeckers are fairly common. Suet and bigger-sized nuts are good attractants.
The bright red stripe down the back of their heads, as well as their heavily barred black and white wings, are the first things you’ll notice about them. Their breast is plain white, and their “belly” portion is pinkish-red, which is usually not visible.
The tongue of a red-bellied woodpecker may protrude nearly 2 inches from its beak. They may extend their tongue out to grab insects from difficult to accessibility areas with a razor-sharp end and gluey spit.
7. YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER
- Scientific name: Sphyrapicus varius
- Length: 7.1-8.7 in
- Weight: 1.5-1.9 oz
- Wingspan: 13.4-15.8 in
Throughout the winter months, the yellow-bellied sapsucker may be found across New Jersey. They will move north in the spring to breed.
They have yellow wash on their white feathers and a red stripe across the top of their head, which makes them look similar to the downy woodpecker at first glance. A crimson neck will also be seen in males.
HOW TO ATTRACT WOODPECKERS
Those of us who appreciate seeing various types of birds in the garden want to attract as many as possible. Woodpeckers may be a little more difficult to attract and prefer slightly different foods than other songbirds, although birdseed is relatively easy to attract. Here are some ideas on what you can do to make your yard more appealing to woodpeckers.
- Many kinds of woodpeckers are courageous enough to feed in the presence of food they like. Suet is the best food for encouraging woodpeckers, despite the fact that several species will devour seeds and nuts. A suet feeder with a tail prop area will aid in the attraction of bigger woodpecker species.
- Woodpeckers prefer dead and dying trees that are simple to bore holes in and have loads of bug larvae for them to devour. Leave them alone.
- Northern flickers and pileated woodpeckers have been known to use nest boxes, so put them up if you see any.
- Dogwood, serviceberry, tupelo, mountain ash, strawberry, cherry, grapes, bayberry, holly, blueberries, apples and mulberry are all native fruit-bearing plants and trees that woodpeckers may sometimes relish.
- Woodpeckers, like other birds, will drink from a water source, so make sure you have one available, preferably with a water mover or solar fountain to help attract them.