Woodpeckers are some of our most charismatic birds. We have seven species here, and they all forage for insects and larvae in trees or the ground.
They are also drummers. Woodpeckers find a nice hollow spot in a trunk or branch (or a rain gutter or stovepipe) and drum rapidly. Both males and females drum to attract mates or declare territory.
This season’s drumming is well under way.
As they forage for food, they peck more slowly and deliberately, listening for insects and probing deep into wood with their long tongues to dislodge a meal.
The largest of the woodpeckers is the pileated, with its distinctive red crest, white neck and black body. This bird is reminiscent of a pteradactyl, the ancient forerunner of birds from the dinosaur age.
With a 29-inch wingspan, it’s hard to miss as it swoops from tree to tree, often leaving a pile of chips beneath.
The American Birding Association has declared 2021 the Year of the Pileated Woodpecker. Pileateds can live up to 12 years.
Next in size is the northern flicker with its brownish back with black barring. These birds often forage in the ground, leaving a lawn full of small holes.
The red-bellied woodpecker doesn’t have the best name. Its orange-red cap is far more distinctive than its white belly with a pale red patch.