Hello there! If you’re a nature enthusiast or bird lover residing in the beautiful state of Florida, you’re in for a treat.
In this article, we’ll explore the fascinating world of woodpeckers and delve into the diverse avian population that thrives in Florida’s woodlands.
Join me as we discover the top 10 types of woodpeckers that call this vibrant state their home.
Prepare to be amazed by their striking plumage, distinctive behaviors, and the vital role they play in our ecosystem.
Let’s get started on this exciting avian adventure!
If you don’t have the time to read the whole article, check out this video for a quick understanding.
Types of Woodpeckers in Florida
1. Northern Flicker
It’s easily mistaken a Northern Flicker for one Red-bellied Woodpecker upon first sight due to their similar body forms; however, the two birds have distinct plumage distinctions.
The Flicker has a spotted breast and a black-streaked brown back & wings, as well as a solid black band below its throat.
The male and female flickers both have a grey crown on their otherwise whiteheads, and both have a bright red patch on the rear of their heads.
The appearance and call of a flicker can also be used to identify it.
Unlike some other woodpeckers, it forages on the ground, typically in big groups, similar to robins.
It has a slightly bent beak and specific tongue modifications for catching ants and beetles.
Flickers have been observed catching insects mid-flight and preying on bats as they depart their roosts.
Their cry is a lengthy, booming “Kikikiki!” that may be heard across its habitat’s vast fields.
When wooing or protecting its territory, the bird flutters its wings and flashes its tail, earning it the name.
Northern Flickers come in two varieties in the United States: red-shafted and yellow-shafted.
The varied colors may be seen on the undersides of the wings as well as tail feathers in flight, as well as in their tails.
The bright orange flickers are found in Florida, while the red-shafted flickers are generally found in the west; however, their ranges overlap in sections of the Midwest.
Flickers, unlike most other woodpeckers, move regionally in search of food and may be found in Florida at any period of the year.
Below are the characteristics of the Northern Flicker,
|Scientific Name||Colaptes auratus|
|Habitat||Forests, open woods|
|Food||Insects, ants, beetles, fruits, seeds|
2. Ivory-Billed Woodpecker
Although becoming one of the world’s biggest woodpeckers and the greatest in the United States in regard to size, these are classified as threatened with Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List.
Even now, several specialists disagree over whether the Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers remain endangered.
However, there have been several reports of Ivory-Billed Woodpecker sightings around Florida, despite the fact that the uncommon strain is thought to be down to less than 24 individuals.
Aside from its enormous size, the species is distinguished by its distinctive lustrous purplish-black feather covering, which is found in both males as well as females.
Below are the characteristics of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker,
|Scientific Name||Campephilus principalis|
|Habitat||Mature bottomland forests, swamps|
|Food||Insects, larvae, tree bark, fruits|
3. Hairy Woodpecker
Understanding the distinction between a Hairy and a Downy Woodpecker is a component of “Bird Identification 101,” one of the fundamental skills that anybody who takes up birding as a pastime will learn early on.
Hairy woodpeckers are uncommon and don’t usually follow mixed wintertime flocks.
The hairy should resemble the downy’s rougher big brother or sister as a rule of thumb for identification.
It is three to 4 inches longer than the downy, approximately the size of a robin, and has a more erect attitude while hanging to a tree, as well as a considerably larger and sharper beak than the downy.
The hairy has completely white tail feathers, but the downy’s tail is black save for a few white patches.
Whereas the Hairy Woodpecker visits yard feeders as well, it prefers to scale taller and higher branches than its little relative.
The cries of the two birds are similar, but the Hairy Woodpecker’s cry is sharper and louder, as one might anticipate.
While both species’ drumming has been measured at around 25 beats per sec, the bigger bird’s pounding is loud enough for humans are able to hear.
Below are the characteristics of the Hairy Woodpecker,
|Scientific Name||Picoides villosus|
|Food||Insects, spiders, seeds, berries|
4. Red-cockaded Woodpecker
Since 1970, red-cockaded woodpeckers have really been categorized as a vulnerable variety, and Florida is one of the very few remaining habitats.
They resemble Hairy or Downy Woodpeckers in shape, but their black & white feathers are devoid of red markings.
Their name derives from a little red stripe on the male bird’s head called a “cockade,” which is an ancient word for a hat ribbon or adornment.
They communicate with a harsh “Pewww!” sound, which is louder & sharper than other little woodpecker calls.
Their quiet drumming has been compared to that of an amplified rattlesnake, which is really made by vibrating the tongue against a tree while eating insects.
The Red-cockaded Woodpecker’s constrained environment is one of the reasons for its threat to survival.
The birds exclusively build their nests in pine tree stands, generally where lightning has left minimal underbrush beneath high trees.
Longleaf pine stands are previously prevalent in Florida as well as other southern regions, but most of this habitat has been logged and developed.
These birds are currently mostly restricted to protected woods and parks throughout the state.
Below are the characteristics of the Red-cockaded Woodpecker,
|Scientific Name||Picoides borealis|
|Habitat||Mature pine forests|
|Food||Insects, spiders, tree sap, fruit|
5. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Because Downy Woodpeckers are already so abundant and friendly, they are usually a birdwatcher’s initial assumption when a black or white bird with an oscillating up & down flying pattern glides into the garden.
Your second suggestion would be a Hairy Woodpecker if the bird has a lengthy beak and appears to be too large to be a Downy Woodpecker.
If the bird does have deep red neck and head patches, and a yellow band all across the top of its chest, and is hibernating in Florida, you’ve just seen a male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.
Sapsuckers are the only fully migratory woodpeckers in North America.
They come south to spend the wintertime in the Sunshine State, like so many other human “snowbirds” in the Northeast.
What they do gives them their moniker.
To roost and establish nests, all woodpeckers create nesting holes in trees, but the majority of them feed by nibbling away at the bark and scooping up the insects beneath.
The sapsucker drills a succession of holes in trees with its long spiked bill to feed on the sap that pours out of the holes, as well as the bugs caught in the sap, which is something the bird gathers up with its brush-like tongue.
If you notice a horizontal series of holes in a tree’s top trunk, you can be sure it’s the activity of your neighboring sapsucker.
Hummingbirds, which accompany the sapsuckers & eat from the small excavations, benefit from these openings, which are termed “sap wells.”
Sapsuckers, on the other hand, dig sap wells incessantly and can often destroy a tree while eating from it.
The distinctive feature that gives Yellow-bellied sapsuckers the name, like Red-bellied woodpeckers, is a faint tint of color.
The females possess a red crown; however, lack the male’s red neck patch & yellow chest stripe.
Both genders interact by making a loud “mewing” voice that sounds like a distressed cat.
The sapsucker’s pounding is shorter, less percussive, and unpredictable than those of other woodpeckers, but they often intensify the sound by banging on iron signs and chimneys flashing.
Below are the characteristics of the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker,
|Scientific Name||Sphyrapicus varius|
|Food||Tree sap, insects, fruits, berries|
6. Pileated Woodpecker
You’ve been engrossed with Florida’s most remarkable woodpecker if you heard what sounded like God’s knuckles hammering on a tree or witness a big bird in flight that appears like a prehistoric crow having long, extended fingers.
The Pileated Woodpecker possesses a massive bill to match its massive head.
Both the male as well as female have a black and white design on their heads, as well as white undersides of their wings.
The male has a red mustache, while the female has a vivid red “pompadour” crown.
“Wuk!Wuk!Wuk!Wuk!” they scream.
Their pounding is a little slower than that of lesser woodpeckers, but in the correct conditions, its deep & resonating tone may be heard for miles.
Pileated Woodpeckers bore rectangular holes in dead trees in pursuit of ants as well as other insects, occasionally causing the tree to split in half.
Smaller birds typically exploit the cavities formed by these large birds as a source of food.
Pileated Woodpeckers will occasionally attend home suet feeders, despite their wild look.
And, in case you’re wondering, the comic Woody Woodpecker is inspired by their look and insane cry.
Below are the characteristics of the Pileated Woodpecker,
|Scientific Name||Dryocopus pileatus|
|Food||Insects, ants, fruits, nuts, sap|
7. Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpeckers, the tiniest of Florida’s indigenous woodpeckers, are great at establishing friends.
Chickadees and white-breasted nuthatches are among the species that form mixed flocks in the winter, as are chickadees and white-breasted nuthatches.
Feeding together offers the advantage of providing more eyes to keep an eye out for predators.
The flock leaders are generally the chickadees in the flock, due to their attentive demeanor and proclivity for locating food.
While the Downy Woodpecker may be leaping up the tree with its back to a hawk, the chickadee is located at the top of the branch with a 360-degree view, and that will be the first to notify the others of any possible danger.
Mixed wintry flocks have really been educated to eat from people’s hands since these birds are all quite comfortable around humans.
The body form of the Downy Woodpecker is similar to that of bigger woodpeckers; however, it is shrunk down to the size of a small sparrow.
The male and female both have a pale white chest, black feathers featuring white markings, and a white patch on an apparently black back.
The male, like many other woodpeckers, has a red patch on his black and white head.
Although their drumming is barely audible, they may be distinguished by their high-pitched “Pip-Pip-Pip!” cry.
The male and female, like other woodpeckers, spend days incubating a nest of four to 6 eggs, which might hatch in as little as 12 days.
Young birds can depart the nest as soon as 3 weeks after hatching, but they remain near their parents during the first few days before venturing out on their own.
Below are the characteristics of the Downy Woodpecker,
|Scientific Name||Picoides pubescens|
|Food||Insects, seeds, berries, sap|
8. Red-bellied Woodpecker
In Florida, the Red-bellied Woodpecker is now the most prevalent woodpecker.
It often lets everyone know whenever it is in town with its loud banging and ear-piercing “Churrr!” cry.
Its apparently scarlet belly is actually white with merely a tint of red.
Both males, as well as females, possess black back & wing plumage with flowing white bars, and both genders have white bursts on their wingtips.
The male does have a flash of red plumage on the back of his head and over his beak, whereas the female just possesses them on the right side of the head as well as over the beak.
The red-bellied woodpecker is distinguished from other woodpeckers by its undulating, up-and-down flying pattern and projecting finger-like points on its fluffy feathers.
This is a strategy for conserving energy when flying.
To ward off rivals and predators, the Red-bellied Flycatcher will gently circle its tree.
While it produces one of the louder drum sounds, banging off 19 beats per second, the bird feeds mostly by gently plucking insects out of bark with such a barbed tongue that may be coated with sticky salvia and extend to nearly twice the length of its beak.
Suet, nuts, and sesame seeds attract Red-bellied Woodpeckers to backyard bird feeders.
Apart from songbirds, birds may seize the bottom of a feeder with their zygodactyl claws, then stow the nuts and seeds they collect in the cracks of the bark with their lengthy tongue.
Their wide variety of habitats, from banks of rivers and wetlands to deciduous woodlands, agricultural fields, and urban parkland, along with their omnivore food, has helped them maintain a steady population and make them one of the most successful common birds.
A similar bird, the Golden-fronted Woodpecker, which is primarily found in Mexico as well as Central America, has already been identified as a transient species in Florida.
According to Wikipedia, a male Golden-fronted Woodpecker mated with a native Red-bellied Woodpecker and raised a family in the state.
Below are the characteristics of the Red-bellied Woodpecker,
|Scientific Name||Melanerpes carolinus|
|Habitat||Woodlands, forests, parks|
|Food||Insects, fruits, nuts, seeds, sap|
9. Red-headed Woodpecker
The Red-headed Woodpecker can’t be confused with any of its Picidae relatives.
It has a slender black & white physique with a rich, deep cherry-red beak, making it a distinctive and unusual bird.
It’s one of the very few woodpeckers that don’t have a gender difference in appearance.
Its cry is comparable to the Red-bellied Woodpecker’s “Churrr!” but is smaller and harsher.
Similar to Downy as well as Hairy Woodpeckers, although substantially louder, the drumming lasts roughly 19-25 beats every sec in repeating intervals.
It will beat on metal surfaces to magnify the sound, similar to sapsuckers.
It, like flickers, loves to build its nest in trees near fields, farms, and other open areas.
“Red-heads” are clever birds known for hoarding food under tree bark and even under roof tiles.
Despite their preference for Florida’s vast marshes and wetlands, their numbers have been declining for years.
The clearance of tree stumps, as well as competition for nest cavities from starlings as well as other species, are suggested to be contributing factors.
These birds are periodically injured by autos when they fly out to catch insects.
Below are the characteristics of the Red-headed Woodpecker,
|Scientific Name||Melanerpes erythrocephalus|
|Habitat||Woodlands, open areas|
|Food||Insects, fruits, nuts, seeds, berries|
10. Golden-Fronted Woodpecker
The Golden-Fronted Woodpecker, which resembles the northern flicker in appearance, brings the list to a close.
The majority of these woodpeckers may be found in Texas & Louisiana.
They are, however, infrequently seen in Florida.
As a result, they are recognized as unexpected species by the Florida Ornithological Society but have yet to be added to the state’s official list.
Golden-Fronted Woodpeckers have banded black & white backs with something like a tan chest, and both males, as well as females, have them.
They may be distinguished from Northern Flickers by the absence of a black spot on the chest and streaking below.
Vibrant yellow dots appear above the beak and on the neck of these woodpeckers.
Males, on the other hand, have an additional red crown.
Below are the characteristics of the Golden-Fronted Woodpecker,
|Scientific Name||Melanerpes aurifrons|
|Food||Insects, fruits, nuts, seeds, sap|
In conclusion, Florida is a haven for woodpecker enthusiasts, offering a remarkable array of these captivating birds.
From the striking Pileated Woodpecker with its vibrant red crest to the petite and charming Downy Woodpecker, each species brings its own unique characteristics and contributions to the state’s diverse ecosystem.
These ten woodpeckers demonstrate the resilience and adaptability of nature’s designs, as they peck, drill, and drum their way through the forests of Florida.
As we appreciate their beauty and marvel at their impressive skills, let us also recognize the importance of preserving their habitats and ensuring their continued existence.
By safeguarding these woodpecker populations, we not only preserve a vibrant part of Florida’s wildlife but also help maintain the delicate balance of nature for generations to come.
So, grab your binoculars and head out to explore the woodlands, for there’s always something incredible to discover in the world of woodpeckers.
What is the largest woodpecker species in Florida?
The Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) is the largest woodpecker species found in Florida, known for its impressive size and striking red crest.
Are all woodpecker species in Florida native?
No, not all woodpecker species in Florida are native. Some species, like the Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus), are native to Florida, while others, like the Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus), are migratory and can be found in the state during certain seasons.
Do woodpeckers cause damage to trees in Florida?
Woodpeckers play a crucial role in the ecosystem by creating cavities in trees for nesting and foraging. While their drilling and pecking may cause cosmetic damage to trees, it is usually not detrimental to the overall health of the tree.
Are woodpeckers beneficial to the environment?
Absolutely! Woodpeckers are considered beneficial species as they help control insect populations by feeding on tree-dwelling insects like beetles, ants, and termites. They also create nesting cavities that are later used by other bird species.
Are woodpeckers in Florida endangered?
While some woodpecker species in Florida, such as the Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Picoides borealis), are classified as endangered, most woodpecker species in the state are not currently listed as endangered or threatened.
Last Updated on July 11, 2023 by Lily Aldrin