The world has about 300 woodpecker species, with the United States home to 22 of them. I discovered eight different species of woodpeckers in North Carolina out of the 22 I’ve found. Some of the eight species live year-round in North Carolina, while others just visit for a short time.
Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Red-headed Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker are the eight species of woodpeckers found in North Carolina.
In this article, we’ll talk about all eight different types of woodpeckers found in North Carolina. Each species will be illustrated, with a brief description, where and how it may be located, as well as a little information about its size.
Follow the link to learn how to entice woodpeckers to your yard, which is worth reading.
WOODPECKERS IN STATE
1. DOWNY WOODPECKER
Length: 5.5-6.7 in
Weight: 0.7-1.0 oz
Wingspan: 9.8-11.8 in
North Carolina is home to the Downy Woodpeckers, the tiniest of all woodpeckers in North America and can be found year-round across the state. Suet, peanuts, mixed seed, and black sunflower seed are all common feeder attractants. Downys, along with chickadees and titmice, are constantly among the first to check out my new feeder whenever I put one up in my yard. They’re non-migratory and can be found throughout the winter.
They hammer away at trees looking for insect larvae or feed on berries and acorns, in addition to visiting bird feeders on a regular basis. A Downy Woodpecker may be seen drinking nectar from a hummingbird feeder all throughout the year. Dead trees or dead branches on live trees are preferred habitat for Downy Woodpeckers.
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 closely resembles the Downy, is next in line. Except from the fact that the Hairy is larger, they may be difficult to distinguish. These may be seen side by side in the photograph below. Left is the Downy, and right is the Hairy. The Hairy Woodpecker is significantly bigger and has a longer beak, while the Downy shot is a bit closer up making size comparison difficult.
In North Carolina and the rest of the United States, the Hairy Woodpecker is a year-round resident. They eat everything their little brother the Downy eats and are commonly seen at bird feeders. It’s likely that you’ve observed both and assumed they were the same species. A little more information on the distinctions between a Hairy and a Downy Woodpecker can be found 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
During the year, red-bellied woodpeckers may be found all over North Carolina. They’re substantially bigger than Downy Woodpeckers, yet they look a lot like Hairy Woodpeckers. They also seem to frequent bird feeders, particularly suet feeders.
When you scroll down to the next woodpecker in North Carolina, you’ll notice the difference. At first glance, you notice their red heads but resist the urge to name them Red-headed Woodpeckers. While perched against a tree or feeding, red-bellied Woodpeckers have a crimson stomach, although it’s more of a faint crimson. To distinguish them, look for their black and white barred 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, unlike the first three on this list of woodpeckers in NC, are more common at bird feeders and can be found all year. These may be observed eating at bird feeders before darting to a tree and hiding the sweet morsels in crevices or on bark for another day.
Insects, seeds, and berries are the major foods of red-headed woodpeckers. When it comes to woodpeckers, they are also considered to be among the most skilled flycatchers and regularly store live insects in tree bark for later. Their bright red heads, combined with black and white bodies, are unmistakable. You can identify them by their bright red heads. They’ve been dwindling in number for some time, and in some areas, they’re becoming increasingly difficult to locate.
5. PILEATED WOODPECKER
Length: 15.8-19.3 in
Weight: 8.8-12.3 oz
Wingspan: 26.0-29.5 in
While other species like the Downy are more common at suet feeders, Pileated Woodpeckers are year-round residents of all of North Carolina. In North America, as well as NC, they are the greatest woodpecker species. When offered suet feeders, they readily consume like other woodpeckers, but they can be difficult to attract and may be elusive. I’ve been trying to attract this bird to my yard for a long time, but I haven’t seen one at my new home yet.
If you have any on your land, they will prefer dead and dying trees, and if you create a nest box, you may attract a pair. They like nesting in big trees in mature woods and can drill enormous holes into them. Carpenter ants are their primary diet, although they consume 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
Northern Flickers are colorful birds that live in backyards and are found across North Carolina. They mostly eat ants from the ground, picking through leaves and dirt with their long tongues, although they do visit feeders on occasion. Other invertebrates, as well as berries, sunflower seeds, and thistle, will be eaten by them alongside the ants.
They do drum on trees frequently as a form of communication, even if they find their food on the ground. Like most other woodpeckers, they prefer to nest in ancient and rotting trees. The spotted underbellies, black bibs, crimson on the backs of their necks, and yellow on their tails identify Northern Flickers. They are bigger than a Hairy Woodpecker but 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
Although yellow-bellied sapsuckers are frequent visitors to suet feeders, they may appear at a bird feeder on occasion. While searching for insects or collecting sap, they are more likely to be seen on tree trunks. Sapsuckers will bore holes in birch and maple trees, insert their bills, and suck as much sap as they can with their extended tongues.
These woodpeckers have a winter habitat that spans most of North Carolina and are roughly the size of an American Robin. So, in the winter before they migrate north to breed, you have the best chance of seeing one. The under bodies of yellow-bellied sapsuckers are dark, with yellow and black chests and red feathers above and below their beaks.
8. RED-COCKADED WOODPECKER
Length: 7.9-9.1 in
Weight: 1.5-1.8 oz
Wingspan: 14.2 in
Only a few regions of Southeast United States are home to the Red-cockaded Woodpecker. They mainly range in the eastern part of North Carolina when it comes to geography. These woodpeckers only nest and roost in pine trees, so look for them in national forests with thick pine forests.
The US has put the Red-cockaded Woodpeckers on a red watch list because of their dwindling population. Fish and Wildlife Service is the federal agency in charge. These birds are uncommon to encounter because they are endangered and no longer as plentiful as they were in the south. Look for pine trees with heart fungus disease to find them. The wood gets soft and excavation becomes simpler as a result of this illness.
The backs and wings of red-cockaded Woodpeckers are black with white bars, while the sides of their heads are mostly white with black streaks. Males have a small red cockade or stripe on their cheeks, which is virtually unnoticeable.
HOW TO ATTRACT WOODPECKERS
Attracting woodpeckers to our feeders or yards is something we enjoy for many of us. They bring a bit of excitement to the equation, just as chickadees, titmice, and cardinals do. They’re more difficult to find, as well as attract. Here are some tips on how to entice woodpeckers to your yard.
- Many kinds of woodpeckers are known for visiting bird feeders, so offer them food they like. Consider offering both black sunflower seed and a suet feeder. A suet feeder with a tail prop area that will help bigger woodpeckers attracted is highly recommended.
- Woodpeckers prefer dead and dying trees with plenty of bug larvae for them to devour, so leave dead trees alone.
- Several kinds of woodpeckers will use nest boxes that have been set up. From May to July, pileated woodpeckers utilize nesting boxes.
- Woodpeckers may crave fruit and berries like dogwood, serviceberry, tupelo, mountain ash, strawberry, cherry, grapes, bayberry, holly, blueberries; apples; and mulberry when they are native to the area.
- Woodpeckers will utilize bird baths as any other birds, so provide them with a water source, such as a water mover or solar fountain to assist attract them. Batteries on solar fountains work best, so the fountain doesn’t stop every time the sun sets behind a cloud.