9 Woodpeckers in Florida – Backyard Birds with Images

Florida has a mostly tropical and subtropical climate, which allows for a huge variety of diverse wildlife to flourish throughout the state. Due to this warm and humid climate, Florida hosts a number of bird species that are endemic.

Some avian species may migrate to Florida to breed and reside there during the winter. Others inhabit Florida all year round. Woodpeckers are one species of bird that Florida is home to, all of which share some similarities regarding their morphology and behavior.

This article talks about the 9 different species of woodpecker that live in Florida. Although, the 9th species of woodpecker on this list is now thought to be extinct.

List of Woodpeckers in Florida

The plumages of the woodpeckers listed in this article are all varying patterns of black and white feathers, which helps conceal them from predators through disruptive coloration. Additionally, they all also adorn red feathers, whether it is their entire head like the redheaded woodpecker or a small, subtle patch like the red-cockaded woodpecker. 

As their name suggests, woodpecker species are known for using their strong, straight bills to drill holes into trees and wood, extracting insects that make up the majority of the diet. whilst this is the case for most of the species on this list, the yellow-bellied sapsucker bores into healthy trees, to fuel their diet of primary sap. 

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker
Image of a Pileated Woodpecker perched on a tree trunk
Credit: Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren

Scientific Name: Dryocopus pileatus 

Pileated woodpeckers are a large species reaching nearly 20 inches in length. These birds are mainly black and have white stripes along their face and neck with white patches on the underside of their wings. 

They have a distinct, triangular crest that is bright red in color. Male pileated woodpeckers have an additional red strip along their cheeks. Their bill is long and chisel-like, perfect for drilling distinctive rectangular-shaped holes into trees. They feed on carpet ants and other insects that live under the dead wood. They use their long, barbed tongue to extract their prey. 

Pileated woodpeckers live in forests that have plenty of dead but standing trees. They drill large holes in trees in which they nest. Many other birds use abandoned and old pileated woodpecker holes to nest in. They are distributed from Canada down to Florida. 

Red Bellied Woodpecker

Red Bellied Woodpecker
Image of a Red Bellied Woodpecker feasting from a bird feeder
Credit: Sandhillcrane

Scientific Name: Melanerpes carolinus 

From the front, red-bellied woodpeckers appear plain and pale due to their light grey face and belly. Their back, wings, and tail are strongly barred with contrasting black and white feathers. Males have a red cap whilst it is just the nape in females that are red. 

They have a straight, black beak which they use to chisel into the bark of trees. They then use their long tongue to extract insects from their freshly drilled holes. As well as insects, they also consume nuts, seeds, and fruits. 

Red-bellied woodpeckers excavate cavities in dead trees which is where they will nest. This species resides in forests and woodlands across the Eastern United States. They occupy Florida all year round. 

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker
Image of a Northern Flicker perched on a tree trunk
Credit: IIP Photo Archive

Scientific Name: Colaptes aratus

Northern flickers have an overall brown plumage that is richly dabbled with black spots and bars. They have a U-shaped black patch on their upper breast. Northern flickers show some color variation depending on their geographical location. 

Eastern Northern flickers have a red nape, black whisker patches, and yellow shafts on the tail and flight feathers. However, Western Northern flickers lack the red nape, have red whisker patches instead of black, and their tail and flight feathers have red shafts instead of yellow. 

Unlike most woodpeckers, these species are ground feeders, using their long bills to drill holes into the soil. They consume mainly insects, favoring ants and beetles. They inhabit open woodland with lots of soil and plant matter to forage in. Northern flickers are widespread in North America, including Florida where they reside year-round. 

Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker
Image of a Hairy Woodpecker perched on a tree
Credit: Cephas

Scientific Name: Picoide svillosus

Hairy woodpeckers have contrasting black and white plumage. Their bellies are white whilst their back and wings are black and adorned with white checkerboard-like patterns. They have a black and white striped head and white strip that runs down the middle of their back. 

Male hairy woodpeckers also have a bright red patch on the back of their head. They use their strong, straight bills to drill holes into tree bark and consume the insects that live there. Their prey includes wood-boring beetles and their larvae as well as ants. 

These birds frequent mature woodlands with large trees. They are found in most of North America and can be seen year-round in Florida.

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker
Image of a Downy Woodpecker perched on a branch
Credit: Rhododendrites

Scientific Name: Dryobates pubescens

Downy woodpeckers look very similar to hairy woodpeckers. Their underparts are white, and they have black and white checkerboard patterns wings, and back. Males also boast a vibrant red patch on the back of their heads. However, downy woodpeckers are much smaller than their hairy cousins and have noticeably smaller bills. 

They feast on insects that live inside the wood which they excavate with their pointed bill. They also consume plant material and are frequent visitors to bird feeders, consuming suet and sunflower seeds. They live in open woodlands across most of the United States, including Florida. They are the smallest woodpecker species in North America, averaging around 6 inches in length. 

Woodpeckers in South East Florida

Red-Cockaded Woodpecker

Red Cockaded Woodpecker
Image of a Red-Cockaded Woodpecker perched on a tree trunk
Credit: Dominic Sherony

Scientific Name: Picoides borealis

Despite their name, the red-cockaded woodpecker has mainly black and white streaked plumage. They have a black cap and large, white cheeks. Males have a tiny red streak on either side of their black cap, although it is rarely visible. 

Like most woodpecker species, they bore holes into trees to get at the arthropod prey that lies beneath the bark. Males forage towards the tops of the trees whilst females forage below the lowest branches. They live in pine forest habitats and are endemic to the Southeastern United States. Their populations are rapidly declining due to habitat loss.

Migrating Woodpecker in Florida

Redheaded Woodpecker

Redheaded Woodpecker
Image of a Red-Headed Woodpecker perched on a tree
Credit: Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren

Scientific Name: Melanerpes erythrocephalus

True to its name, this bird has an entirely crimson-colored head. They have a pure white body with wings that are half jet black and half snow white. This plumage makes for a very striking appearance. 

Unlike most woodpeckers, they are flycatchers, plucking insects from the air. They are omnivores and around two-thirds of their diet is plant matter such as fruits and seeds, whilst the remainder is arthropods. They are known to store food in crevices in trees. 

Red-headed woodpeckers inhabit deciduous, open woodlands. These birds inhabit Canada and the United States but migrate South, including to Florida, to breed and winter. 

Yellow Bellied Sapsucker

Yellow Bellied Sapsucker
Image of a Yellow Bellied Sapsucker perched on a tree
Credit: Charles J. Sharp

Scientific Name: Sphyrapicus varius

Yellow-bellied sapsuckers are predominantly black and white patterned. They have bold black and white stripes across their face and a white stripe on either wing. Both males and females have bright red foreheads and the males also have bright red throats. 

Their underparts have a yellow tint to them, hence their name. also indicated by their name, these birds rely on sap for their main food source. They use their strong, straight bills to drill holes into the trees and suck out the sap from within. In addition to sap, they consume insects that they glean from under the bark. 

Unlike most woodpeckers that require dead trees, sapsuckers live in woodlands and forests that have plenty of quickly regenerating trees which are ideal for sap wells. They breed in Southern and Central America and migrate South, including to Florida, for the winter.

Rare Woodpeckers in Florida

Ivory Billed Woodpecker

Ivory Billed Woodpecker
Image of an Ivory Billed Woodpecker perched on a tree
Credit: Arthur A. Allen

Scientific Name: Campephilus principalis

The ivory-billed woodpecker is classed as critically endangered, although many believe it has already become extinct. They are the third largest woodpecker in the world, reaching up to 20 inches in length. This bird has a long neck and a thick, straight bill. 

The plumage is mainly black with two white stripes running down their neck and white panels on their upper wings. Males have a bright red crest whereas females have a black crest. Their diet consists primarily of large beetle larvae which they excavate from dead trees and fallen logs, using their large bills to drill deep holes. 

Typically living in forests with large trees and forage in areas with dead trees that have been killed by natural disasters such as flooding and fires. They are native to South America and Cuba. The last sighting of an ivory-billed woodpecker was in Cuba in the 1980s. They have a year-round range in Florida, although one has not been seen for decades. 

FAQ Woodpeckers in Florida

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