10 Different Species of Woodpeckers in New York (NY)

Whenever people think of New York, they normally think of skyscrapers, busy streets, and flashing advertisements in the midst of the Big Apple. However, did you know the state is a habitat for about 400 different species of bird?

Woodpeckers are one of the numerous intriguing bird species that could be noticed and observed in the Empire State, thanks to its woods, parks, dunes, green areas, and more.

These beautiful birds spend much of their time pounding trees and catching insects using their chisel-like beaks and lengthy tongues.

Pileated WoodpeckerPileated Woodpecker
Red-Headed WoodpeckerRed-Headed Woodpecker
Red-Bellied WoodpeckerRed-Bellied Woodpecker
Downy WoodpeckerDowny Woodpecker
Black-Backed WoodpeckerBlack-Backed Woodpecker
Hairy WoodpeckerHairy Woodpecker
Williamson’s SapsuckerWilliamson’s Sapsucker
American Three-Toed WoodpeckerAmerican Three-Toed Woodpecker
Northern FlickerNorthern Flicker
Yellow-Bellied SapsuckerYellow-Bellied Sapsucker

Different Species of Woodpeckers in New York (NY)

1. Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

If you encounter pileated woodpeckers visiting New York, they are practically pretty hard to miss. The appearance is virtually identical to that of a crow!


With a length of approximately 48.26 centimeters and a wingspan of nearly 30 inches, the pileated woodpecker seems to be the biggest of the state’s woodpecker species.

Apart from its enormous body, the coloration of a pileated woodpecker is really an obvious way to recognize it.

The majority of its body will be black, with white stripes all over its face and neck.

A pileated woodpecker’s fiery red crown is yet another distinguishing feature. Furthermore, males possess red stripes on their faces, whereas females possess black stripes.

Scientific Name Dryocopus pileatus
Wingspan 26.0 to 29.5 in
Weight 8.8 to 12.3 oz
Length 15.8 to 19.3 in

Aside from their looks, pileated woodpeckers may also be identified by their voice. They are noisy, with plainly discernible higher and lower tones.


If you want to see pileated woodpeckers throughout the state, search for vast, forested areas with a bunch of dead trees. Find rectangular-shaped cavities.

Wood-boring beetles and Carpenter ants, for example, will extract food from decaying wood.

2. Red-Headed Woodpecker

Red-Headed Woodpecker

The name simply gives away what all the red-headed woodpeckers seem likes. The most distinguishing feature is its big bright red head.

It does have a black back that contrasts beautifully with its pristine white abdomen and white spots on its wings. With such vibrant hues, it’s also known as a soaring checkerboard.


Whereas most red-headed woodpeckers are found in central and southern America, they occasionally visit New York in the spring and early summer. Nonetheless, they are uncommon and, therefore, not as frequent as red-bellied woodpecker reported.

The red-headed woodpecker is a vigorous protector of its territory. They will remove any eggs found in their nests.

Scientific Name Melanerpes erythrocephalus
Wingspan 16.5 in
Weight 2.0 to 3.2 oz
Length 7.5 to 9.1 in

In terms of location, the majority of these woodpeckers may be found in open forests throughout New York. Because the red-headed woodpecker prefers acorns, they are plentiful around the areas having oak trees.


Red-headed woodpeckers are often attracted to backyard bird feeders due to their desire for nuts. To promote their arrival, provide suet and sunflower seeds.

Finally, red-headed woodpeckers are convivial eaters, catching even flying insects. They might also search for food inside the cracks.

A red-headed woodpecker is known to save food for subsequent feeding.

3. Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied woodpeckers, similar to Northern flickers, can be seen all year in New York. They are simple to identify and are one of the most frequent woodpecker varieties to bring to backyard feeders.

The red-bellied woodpecker is often confused with a red-headed woodpecker. Their hats are each adorned with a crimson band.

Red-bellied woodpeckers, as even the name suggests, get a red color on their abdomen. Nonetheless, it is frequently faint and difficult to detect.


Red-bellied woodpeckers are versatile birds that may be found in a variety of settings. They thrive in groves, woods, and woodlands. They may also be found in urban areas, like municipal playgrounds.

Scientific Name Melanerpes carolinus
Wingspan 13.0 to 16.5 in
Weight 2.0 to 3.2 oz
Length 9 to 10.51 in

Red-bellied woodpeckers, such as the majority of the birds on this site, can be attracted to nesting boxes and garden feeders.


Several of the greatest feeds to attracting such woodpeckers around upstate New York yards include black oil, sunflower seeds, and suet.

These woodpeckers are also frequently seen at hummingbird feeders, where they dine on berries and fruits.

4. Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Downy woodpeckers are really the tiniest woodpecker type not just in New York but also in North America, measuring 13.97 to 17.018 centimeters in length and having wings that reach around 10 inches.

Mixing the two when you first see hairy woodpeckers and downy woodpeckers is quite usual. They share the same white and black coloring.

The fundamental distinction between the two would be that a downy woodpecker is so much thinner and has a smaller beak. A downy woodpecker also has black patches all over its white tail, whereas hairy woodpeckers do not even have.

Scientific Name Dryobates pubescens
Wingspan 9.8 to 11.8 in
Weight 0.7 to 1.0 oz
Length 5.5 to 6.7 in


When searching for downy woodpeckers, seek for them in open woods and new deciduous forests. They frequently visit backyards, gardens, and orchards.

Downy woodpeckers are also commonly found in dead tree holes, wherein they hatch their eggs.


In New York, a downy woodpecker’s food will consist primarily of insects. It feeds on beetle larvae that hide behind tree bark. Caterpillars can also be consumed. Apart from insects, it will consume cereals, berries, and acorns.

5. Black-Backed Woodpecker

Black-Backed Woodpecker

Although this is a rare woodpecker throughout New York, it deserves to be included in our category. It is black and unobtrusive and is mainly found in coniferous woods containing dead trees.

It does have a black and white patterning, like other woodpeckers across New York State. It does have a black body having white dots beneath. Their heads are almost entirely black, save for a yellow crown band on adult males.

Scientific Name Picoides arcticus
Length 9.1 in
Weight 2.1 to 3.1 oz
Wingspan 15.8 to 16.5 in

Black-backed woodpeckers have been observed searching for food in woodlands having dead and burned trees. In comparison to other woodpeckers, they typically stay in one location for a prolonged period until moving on to the next.

They are also renowned for digging, which is how they obtain wood-boring beetle larvae. They can consume fruits and nuts in addition to insects.

The black-backed woodpeckers appear similar to the American three-toed woodpeckers among all of the varieties on this page.

They possess nearly identical black and white feathers, rendering it tricky to discern one from another. Both like feeding in burned forests, where they scrape the bark of dead trees.

6. Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

The hairy woodpecker is among New York’s most common woodpeckers. They remain there all year, such as the Northern flicker, and there is a good possibility of finding these medium-sized species if you search in the correct spots.


Hairy woodpeckers can be found in mature forests having medium and big trees. They may also be found in coniferous and deciduous woods, suburbia, and parkland.

It features a distinctive black and white appearance, as seen in other woodpecker varieties like the downy woodpecker. It has dotted wings and a head with two white stripes.

A broad white patch extends along the center of a hairy woodpecker’s dark back.

Scientific Name Dryobates villosus
Wingspan 13.0 to 16.1 in
Weight 1.4 to 3.4 oz
Length 7.1 to 10.2 in

Insects comprise approximately 75% of a hairy woodpecker’s dietary needs. They eat bark beetles and carpenter ants. They would also eat codling moths, making them suitable for pest management.

Suet and sunflower seeds using backyard bird feeders might bring a hairy woodpecker.

Aside from its outward appearance, a hairy woodpecker’s existence may be easily detected by hearing its noise. It will make a whining call that is rather loud for its small.

7. Williamson’s Sapsucker

Williamson’s Sapsucker
Credits – Wikipedia

Williamson’s sapsucker is just an aesthetically compelling woodpecker in NY that would make an excellent theme for bird photographers. Its body is silky black, with a white spot on its wing.

This one has a distinct facial design that draws attention to its eyes.


These birds are known to bore tiny, shallow cavities in coniferous trees. They will devour not only the interior bark and fluid upon burrowing the bark but also any entrapped insects. During the mating season, such birds will consume ants as well.

They flourish in old woods, particularly those with a variety of aspen and Douglas fir. They love low altitudes in riparian woodlands in the wintertime.

Despite their outward look, they are among the state’s more modest species. Apart from their appearance, you may detect their existence by hearing their loud cries that resemble a cat’s voice.

8. American Three-Toed Woodpecker

American Three-toed Woodpecker
Credits – Wikipedia

One of New York’s most rare woodpeckers, the number of these species is concentrated in the state’s northeast.

If you are fortunate enough to observe American-three-toed woodpeckers, then you might notice that their coloring is quite similar to the other species in this category. It has black and white bands on its head and black and white patterning on the rest of its body.

Furthermore, when feeding, American three-toed woodpeckers are noted for scaling or flaking the bark of tree trunks. They possess small yet powerful bills that they employ to scrape even thick bark.

Scientific Name Picoides dorsalis
Wingspan 14.6 to 15.3 in
Weight 1.6 to 2.4 oz
Length 8.3 to 9.1 in

It is unusual for them to be digging far into the timber. They will concentrate on a particular tree for a prolonged period before moving on to another target.


They are also most frequent in disturbed habitats, such as burned forests and places having bark beetle outbreaks, in the natural.

9. Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

Northern flickers, which look like downy woodpeckers, may be found in most sections of New York all year. However, they were only ever found in the state’s northernmost tip during the mating season.

Northern flickers are distinguished from the majority of the other varieties in this category by their lack of black and white coloring. Its feathers are gray-brown alternatively.

There are several black marks underneath the wings of the northern flicker. Likewise, those in the west might wear red feathers, whereas some from the east would wear yellow.

Scientific Name Colaptes auratus
Wingspan 16.5 to 20.1 oz
Weight 3.9 to 5.6 oz
Length 11.0 to 12.2 in

This woodpecker in New York, such as the pileated woodpecker, is among the biggest woodpecker throughout the state. Considering this, the northern flicker’s head is thin and spherical.


Northern flickers are distinguished by their coloring and the fact that they frequently feed on the ground. Northern flickers typically seek ants and insects nearby that they can quickly recover with their long, slightly bent beak.

10. Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

A yellow-bellied sapsucker, despite its name, doesn’t really have a mainly yellow belly. It bears yellowish patterns on the underparts, although they are light and hard to see from a distance.

The brilliant red forehead of these woodpeckers across New York is an excellent way to recognize them. However, the yellow-bellied sapsucker’s throat would be striped with white. It has black and white feathers on its body.

In terms of size, a yellow-bellied sapsucker is around the size of a robin. The typical length is between 7 and 9 inches.

Scientific Name Sphyrapicus varius
Wingspan 13.4 to 15.8 in
Weight 1.5 to 1.9 oz
Length 7.1 to 8.7 in

You can spot a yellow-bellied sapsucker throughout New York from spring until summertime. They will migrate south in the wintertime.


Yellow-bellied sapsucker populations are concentrated in coniferous and deciduous woods. The majority of them will remain in places containing aspen trees, in which they will breed in the holes.

Check out this article on Types of Woodpeckers in New England.


New York is much more than simply its architecture. It is actually greener than most people actually believe. It’s no surprise that it’s also a haven for woodpeckers.

There are several kinds of woodpeckers in New York, ranging from pileated to red-bellied. It contains a dense urban woodland that offers the perfect habitat for New York’s woodpeckers.


Are Woodpeckers Safe in New York?

Yes, woodpeckers remain protected by the constitution in New York. You are not permitted to keep them as pets. They are not appropriate for shooting. The state’s woodpecker types are birds of prey that should be allowed to live peacefully in their native environment.

Last Updated on March 22, 2023 by Lily Aldrin

About Lily Aldrin

I am Lily Aldrin. I attended Cornell University, where I obtained my degree to become an Ornithologist so I could pursue my love of these magnificent creatures in and out of their natural habitats.

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