In North America, there are numerous distinct species of woodpeckers, and Rhode Island is home to seven of them. We’ll look at each species in this article, and discuss where and when you might see one, as well as whether they visit backyard feeders. A few tricks on how to attract woodpeckers to your yard are included at the conclusion of the article.
7 SPECIES OF WOODPECKERS IN RHODE ISLAND
Downy woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, northern flicker, pileated woodpecker, red-headed woodpecker, red-bellied woodpecker, and yellow-bellied sapsucker are the seven species of birds that live in Rhode Island.
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 tiny woodpeckers may be found year-round in Rhode Island. They’re ubiquitous across much of the United States. They are the tiniest woodpeckers in North America, with a body height of just over a meter.
The white patches on the downy’s backs, as well as its pure white chest and belly, distinguish it from other birds. It is only about the size of a sparrow. A red patch appears on the back of the male’s head.
Woodpeckers prefer to visit backyard bird feeders, and the downy is the most common species. They enjoy suet as well as a range of seeds, including sunflower seeds and millet. Hummingbirds may be seen visiting your feeder, where their tiny beak permits them to access the sugar water.
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 concerned that this picture might be of another downy woodpecker, don’t be. They do not have the same answer, but they do resemble each other. Throughout the United States, hairy woodpeckers may be found in the same places as downy woodpeckers. and, when trying to identify which is which, cause a lot of confusion.
In comparison to its body size, the hairy woodpecker is substantially bigger and has a longer beak. Here’s an article that will teach you how to differentiate between them.
In terms of habitat and eating habits, these two woodpeckers are almost identical. They’re present all year round in Rhode Island. The hairy woodpecker is less inclined to approach humans, and although they will visit backyard suet feeders, they are not as frequently observed as the downy.
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 quite widespread in backyards. They are, in my opinion, some of North America’s most beautiful birds.
Flickers, unlike other woodpeckers, prefer to forage for insects on the ground rather than in trees. The black patches on their bellies, solid black bib, red patch on the back of their necks, and barred black and gray wings will help you identify them. A black mustache is found on males.
The yellow-shafted variety can be found in Rhode Island, and the underside of their wings and tail are bright yellow.
Throughout the year, Northern Flickers may be seen across Rhode Island, and suet may be used to attract them to your yard.
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 Rhode Island and North America, the pileated woodpecker is the largest of all woodpeckers. Their body is black, with a black and white striped face and a large red crest. Females have no red cheek stripe, whereas males do.
Throughout the state, pileated woodpeckers may be spotted, although they are more prevalent in the north and west.
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 completely red/crimson head of the red-headed woodpecker, as well as its black and white color-blocked body, make it easy to identify. They’re not as prevalent as some other woodpeckers in the backyard, but they do visit suet feeders on occasion. They will consume a variety of nuts and fruits in addition to suet.
Acorns and beech nuts are among the few woodpeckers that preserve their meals in caches for later consumption, making them one of four kinds. These woodpeckers go one step further and coat the meal with bark or wood to make it more difficult for predators to see.
While red-headed woodpeckers do visit Rhode Island on occasion, it is not part of their standard range. They appear at any time of year, so keep an eye out for that crimson head and you may get lucky!
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 Rhode Island and much of the eastern United States, the red-bellied woodpecker lives year-round. In settings and in backyards, these medium-sized woodpeckers are common. Suckers and bigger nuts will attract them.
Their bright red stripe down the back of their heads, as well as their heavily barred black and white wings, distinguish them from other species. Plain white breasts are visible, although there is a pinkish-red patch lower down in their “belly” section that is not usually visible.
The tongue of a red-bellied woodpecker can extend nearly 2 inches from its beak. They can lash their tongue out to grab insects from hard-to-reach areas with a barbed end and sticky 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 Rhode Island. Most will breed in the spring after heading north.
They have a yellow wash on their white feathers and a red stripe across the top of their head, making them look similar to the downy woodpecker at first glance. A crimson throat will also be present in males.
Because sap is their primary food source, they aren’t common at bird feeders. Using their long tongues, they drill holes into maple, elm, aspen, and birch trees and collect sap. Their presence is signaled by a row of tiny holes on a tree trunk. They’ll devour a wide range of insects, some of which get stuck in the sticky sap near their wells, in addition to sap.
HOW TO ATTRACT WOODPECKERS
Those of us who enjoy looking at birds in the yard want to attract as many different species as possible. Woodpeckers can be a little more difficult to attract, and they require more specialized foods than most songbirds do. To make your yard more appealing to woodpeckers, consider the following suggestions.
- Many types of woodpeckers are courageous enough to visit feeders, so offer them food they like. Suet is the finest food for attracting woodpeckers, while other species will eat seeds and nuts. Make sure to get a suet feeder with a tail prop zone that will attract larger woodpecker species.
- Woodpeckers appreciate unkempt trees that are simple to bore holes in and have a lot of bug larvae for them to devour. Leave dead trees alone.
- The northern flicker and pileated woodpecker are known to use nest boxes, which should be put up.
- Woodpeckers may occasionally enjoy fruits and berries like dogwood, serviceberry, tupelo, mountain ash, strawberry, cherry, grapes, bayberry, holly, blueberriessonsonsonberries. Plant native fruit bearing plants and trees
- Woodpeckers will utilize bird baths in the same way as any other birds, so provide them with a water source, preferably one with a water mover or solar fountain to help attract them.