In North America, there are up to 22 different types of woodpeckers, and New Mexico is home to 12 of them. Each species will be examined in depth in this article, with information on where and when you may see one in New Mexico. I’ll also provide you with some advice on how to entice woodpeckers to your property at the conclusion of the article.
12 SPECIES OF WOODPECKERS IN NEW MEXICO
Red-headed Woodpecker, Arizona Woodpecker, Acorn Woodpecker, Red-naped Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Lewis’s Woodpecker, Gila Woodpeckers and Williamson’s Sapsucker are the 12 different species of woodpeckers found in Texas.
1. RED-HEADED WOODPECKER
Length: 7.5-9.1 in
Weight: 2.0-3.2 oz
Wingspan: 16.5 in
With just a few sporadic breeding populations each year, consider yourself lucky if you live in New Mexico and see one of these in your yard. The totally red/crimson head of the Red-headed Woodpecker is easily recognized. Suet feeders are sometimes visited, although other types of woodpeckers are less common. They’ll eat different nuts and fruits, as well as suet, and are very good at catching flying insects in mid-flight.
Red-headed Woodpeckers may be quite aggressive, and they may even puncture or smash eggs to kill the young of other species if they take over their nests. They are one of only four woodpecker species that store their food in caches, which they can use at a later time. The Red-headed Woodpecker goes even farther, covering the food with bark or wood to help conceal it from predators.
2. ACORN WOODPECKER
Length: 7.5-9.1 in
Weight: 2.3-3.2 oz
Wingspan: 13.8-16.9 in
In North America, the Acorn Woodpeckers have a fairly restricted range, with the exception of New Mexico, where they may be found all year. They eat acorns and a variety of insects in oak or pine-oak woodlands. They will at least sometimes feed on suet, like other woodpecker species, but they are less common than Downy woodpeckers.
They’re recognized for storing nuts in large quantities in the shape of granaries drilled into trunks. Other animals are unable to remove them because they jam them into these holes so tightly. This food is clearly being stored in preparation for a future when it will be scarcer. These food caches will be fiercely guarded against anyone who wants to steal them.
3. RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER
Length: 7.5-8.3 in
Weight: 1.1-2.3 oz
Wingspan: 16.1-16.9 in
Before researchers discovered that Red-naped Sapsuckers and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers were actually two separate species in 1983, they were regarded to be the same species.
They drink sap from aspen, birch, and pine trees, as well as eating insects, like other sapsuckers do. Early in the breeding season (around mid-May), and early in the morning, when they are most active, look for them in Northern New Mexico. They are more prevalent during the winter in the state’s southern and western regions. A sap-producing tree with neat rows of holes is a sure sign that a sapsucker is present.
4. DOWNY WOODPECKER
Length: 5.5-6.7 in
Weight: 0.7-1.0 oz
Wingspan: 9.8-11.8 in
These tiny woodpeckers do not migrate and may be found across New Mexico throughout the year. They don’t go any farther south than New Mexico because their range’s southern limit is in New Mexico. In almost all of the United States, they’re quite prevalent. They are also the tiniest woodpeckers in North America. They’re also quite popular around bird feeders, and they’re the first to arrive at a new one.
Suet is a favorite, but they also consume seeds like sunflower seeds, millet, and peanuts. They have white spots on their backs and bellies, and they are only about the size of a sparrow. A red patch will appear on top of the heads of males.
5. LADDER-BACKED WOODPECKER
Length: 6.3-7.1 in
Weight: 0.7-1.7 oz
Wingspan: 13.0 in
From late January through early March, when the woodpeckers are getting together for breeding, look for Ladder-backed Woodpeckers. They can be found all year in Eastern and Southeastern New Mexico. They’ll readily eat mealworms, peanut butter, and black oil sunflower seeds when offered, but they aren’t commonly seen at suet feeders.
If you want to attract a pair, don’t leave those dead trees in your yard alone; they commonly nest in them. Because they frequently live in deserts and thorn forests where cacti are present, ladder-backed Woodpeckers were once known as “Cactus Woodpeckers.”
6. HAIRY WOODPECKER
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 a different Downy Woodpecker. They do not resemble each other, but they do look similar. The majority of New Mexico is home to hairy woodpeckers, however they are less common in the southeast. These woodpeckers have a substantially bigger beak than Downy’s and are significantly bigger. They are difficult to differentiate and have virtually identical characteristics, other than that. In general, bird feeders seem to be less common for them.
You may provide the same things that you offer a Downy, bird Suet using suet feeders in order to attract Hairy Woodpeckers to your backyards. Hairy, on the other hand, is less common at feeders in my experience.
7. NORTHERN FLICKER
Length: 11.0-12.2 in
Weight: 3.9-5.6 oz
Wingspan: 16.5-20.1 in
Most of North America, as well as the United States, are home to Northern Flickers in some capacity. They can be found all year in New Mexico, and they are widespread. Between the size of a Hairy and a Pileated Woodpecker, these big woodpeckers are huge. They’re among my favorite birds in North America, and I enjoy seeing one in my yard. In my opinion, they’re some of the most beautiful.
The ground-hunting Northern Flickers are distinguished from other woodpeckers by their preference for hunting. They’re frequently seen digging through dirt and leaves looking for insects.
8. GILA WOODPECKER
Length: 8.7-9.4 in
Weight: 1.8-2.8 oz
Wingspan: 15.8-16.5 in
This third species is only found in New Mexico, although it can be found in practically no other state in the United States. In Arizona, the United States, Gila Woodpeckers are most common. In treeless desert environments in Southeastern states like California, Arizona, and New Mexico, the Gila Woodpecker is famed for its ability to live. In the arid areas where they live, they excavate their nests in the saguaro cactus, one of the few surviving trees. They get everything they need to live in these huge cacti, including food and shelter.
American Kestrels, Elf Owls, Ferruginous Pygmy-Owls, Ash-throated Flycatchers, Brown-crested Flycatchers, Purple Martins, Cactus Wrens and Lucy’s Warblers are among the birds that take over Gila Woodpeckers’ holes after they have gone. In the table below, you can see which drive has been used.
They appear to be very similar to their eastern cousin, the Red-bellied Woodpecker, in appearance, but they are quite different in many ways. They can be attracted to feeders with all the usual woodpecker food, such as suet, despite their scarcity and restricted range.
9. LEWIS’S WOODPECKER
Length: 10.2-11.0 in
Weight: 3.1-4.9 oz
Wingspan: 19.3-20.5 in
In New Mexico, Lewis’ Woodpeckers are relatively uncommon, although they can be found across the majority of the state. They prefer pine woodlands and burnt woodlands, but their numbers are sometimes erratic. During the acorn and nut storing season, they travel widely, especially after mating. During the winter, they store these foods in hiding places where they can last.
Lewis’s Woodpeckers, unlike other woodpeckers, mostly depend on mid-air insect catching. Their flight has a beautiful, crow-like quality due to their broad, rounded wings. Their skin is likewise distinctive, with a pink belly and a red patch on the cheek, as well as a dark, iridescent green on their back and wings.
10. AMERICAN THREE-TOED WOODPECKER
Length: 8.3-9.1 in
Weight: 1.6-2.4 oz
Wingspan: 14.6-15.3 in
New Mexico is one of the few places in the United States where the American Three-toed Woodpecker may be found, along with a few other states in the west. Just a few spots in Central New Mexico are home to these birds, which are very uncommon in the state. They favor damaged, old growth woods with abundant dead or burnt trees, which makes insect larvae and bug mining simple for them.
Woodpeckers have 4 toes, or Zygodactyl toes, in the majority of cases. These woodpeckers, however, only have three toes and are named for the sound. Because of the leverage provided by just three toes, the Three-toed Woodpecker is thought to be able to lean back farther and strike a more powerful blow to its target.
In the United States, these woodpeckers are not frequent. They don’t frequent feeders, if they do at all.
11. WILLIAMSON’S SAPSUCKER
Length: 8.3-9.8 in
Weight: 1.6-1.9 oz
Wingspan: 17 inches
Only a few midwestern states, including New Mexico, have populations of Williamson’s Sapsuckers. They are most active in the warmer months, when they pair up to mate, and may be found in the western 2/3 of the state. The Sapsuckers spend the winter in parts of Southern New Mexico and Mexico, from Northern New Mexico to the south.
They feed mostly on sap extracted from coniferous trees by drilling sapwells. Insects are also eaten by sapsuckers.
Williamson’s Sapsuckers are mainly found in the Rocky Mountains’ woodlands and westward from there, but they are uncommon in backyards. They prefer nesting in bigger, older trees and roost in natural or excavated holes.
12. ARIZONA WOODPECKER
Length: 7.1-7.9 in
Weight: 1.2-1.8 oz
Wingspan: 14.2 in
Arizona and New Mexico are the only states in the United States where the Arizona Woodpecker may be found. These woodpeckers have just a tiny range in the Southern borders of both states, where they overlap each other. These woodpeckers spend the year around in a long population strip that runs across Central Mexico, with the northernmost tip just barely entering the United States. Arizona and New Mexico are the two states in question.
Between March and May, this is when both sexes are most vocal during the breeding season, and you’ll have the best chance of spotting one of these guys. Insects, larvae, nuts, berries, and other typical woodpecker foods are eaten by Arizona Woodpeckers. They breed in excavated holes in dead wood and reside in mature pine-oak woodlands.
HOW TO ATTRACT WOODPECKERS
Attracting woodpeckers to our feeders or yards is something we all enjoy. They bring a touch of excitement to the mix and may be seen in the same areas as chickadees, titmice, or cardinals. They’re more difficult to see and attract, however. To get woodpeckers to your property, follow these guidelines.
- Many different kinds of woodpeckers are known for visiting bird feeders, so offer them food they like. Consider placing a suet feeder alongside a black sunflower seed handout. A suet feeder with a tail prop section that promotes larger woodpeckers is highly recommended.
- Woodpeckers like dead and dying trees that are simple to bore holes into and have plenty of bug larvae for them to feed on. Leave dead trees alone.
- Many woodpeckers species will utilize nest boxes, so put them up. From May to July, pileated woodpeckers utilize nesting boxes.
- Woodpeckers may occasionally enjoy fruits and berries such as dogwood, serviceberry, tupelo, mountain ash, strawberry, cherry, grapes, bayberry, holly, blueberries, apples and mulberry.
- Remember to provide water for woodpeckers, as they will drink from bird baths as any other birds would. The presence of a water mover or solar fountain may help attract them. To avoid the fountain from stopping every time the sun goes behind a cloud, solar fountains with batteries work best.