10 Types of Woodpeckers in Ohio

As a nature enthusiast in Ohio, I have always been captivated by the vibrant wildlife that graces our state.

Among the many fascinating creatures, woodpeckers stand out as remarkable and captivating birds.

In this article, I am thrilled to introduce you to the ten types of woodpeckers found right here in Ohio.

Join me on a journey through the forests and woodlands as we discover the unique characteristics and behaviors of these magnificent birds that bring life and rhythm to our natural surroundings.

Let’s delve into the world of woodpeckers and uncover the beauty that resides in our own backyard.

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

  • Scientific Name: Dryocopus pileatus
  • Family Name: Picidae
  • Length: 16-19 inches (40-49 cm)
  • Weight: 8.8-14.1 ounces (250-400 grams)
  • Wingspan: 26-30 inches (66-76 cm)
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Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-headed Woodpecker

  • Scientific Name: Melanerpes erythrocephalus
  • Family Name: Picidae
  • Length: 7.5-9.3 inches (19-24 cm)
  • Weight: 2.7-3.4 ounces (76-96 grams)
  • Wingspan: 16.5-17.7 inches (42-45 cm)
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Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

  • Scientific Name: Melanerpes carolinus
  • Family Name: Picidae
  • Length: 9-10.6 inches (23-27 cm)
  • Weight: 2.0-3.2 ounces (56-91 grams)
  • Wingspan: 13-17 inches (33-43 cm)
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Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

  • Scientific Name: Colaptes auratus
  • Family Name: Picidae
  • Length: 11-14 inches (28-36 cm)
  • Weight: 3.9-5.6 ounces (110-160 grams)
  • Wingspan: 16-21 inches (41-53 cm)
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Black-Backed Woodpecker

Black-Backed Woodpecker

  • Scientific Name: Picoides arcticus
  • Family Name: Picidae
  • Length: 8.3-9.8 inches (21-25 cm)
  • Weight: 1.8-3.3 ounces (50-94 grams)
  • Wingspan: 16.5 inches (42 cm)
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Ivory-Billed Woodpecker

Ivory-Billed Woodpecker

  • Scientific Name: Campephilus principalis
  • Family Name: Picidae
  • Length: 19-21 inches (48-53 cm)
  • Weight: 15-20 ounces (430-570 grams)
  • Wingspan: 28-30 inches (71-76 cm)
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Red-Cockaded Woodpecker

Red-Cockaded Woodpecker

  • Scientific Name: Leuconotopicus borealis
  • Family Name: Picidae
  • Length: 7-9 inches (18-23 cm)
  • Weight: 1.5-1.7 ounces (43-49 grams)
  • Wingspan: 14-16 inches (36-41 cm)
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Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

  • Scientific Name: Picoides pubescens
  • Family Name: Picidae
  • Length: 5.5-6.7 inches (14-17 cm)
  • Weight: 0.7-1.0 ounces (20-28 grams)
  • Wingspan: 9.8-11.8 inches (25-30 cm)
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Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

  • Scientific Name: Leuconotopicus villosus
  • Family Name: Picidae
  • Length: 7.1-10.2 inches (18-26 cm)
  • Weight: 1.4-3.4 ounces (40-95 grams)
  • Wingspan: 13-16.1 inches (33-41 cm)
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Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

  • Scientific Name: Sphyrapicus varius
  • Family Name: Picidae
  • Length: 7.5-8.3 inches (19-21 cm)
  • Weight: 1.5-1.9 ounces (42-54 grams)
  • Wingspan: 13-16 inches (33-41 cm)
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If you don’t have the time to read the whole article, check out this video for a quick understanding.

Types of Woodpeckers in Ohio

1. Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

The Pileated Woodpecker is Ohio’s biggest woodpecker.

Its overall body is considered to be massive is massive, from its dagger-like bill to its wingspan to its bright crimson crest.

Although Pileated Woodpeckers are easily distinguishable, a vital field mark may be used to identify between a male and a female, and it is a frequent distinction amongst woodpecker genders.

While both male and female of the species have a black stripe around the eyes and another stripe that extend down from the bill to the throat, the female’s second stripe is all black, whereas the male’s second stripe is partially red and resembles a mustache,

The specie started to colonize abandoned farms as they reverted to woodlands.

Despite not being as prevalent as many of the other woodpeckers you’ll see here, they may still be spotted in many protected places around Ohio.

Known in ornithology as a malar.

These birds are found in Ohio throughout the year.

They are not nomadic birds.

They are one of the most active excavators among North American woodpeckers, digging into dead trees and searching for social insects.

Although they are significantly less prevalent in Ohio than in the southeast, you ought to be able to discover them as they’re so difficult to miss when they are around.

They also consume fruits and berries, and for a bird of this size, they can balance on little vines and plants, which might surprise you to believe.

Their dwellings are immediately visible, as a vast hole is required to host such a gigantic bird.

This species inspired the comic book character Woody Woodpecker.

Below are the characteristics of the Pileated Woodpecker,

Scientific Name Dryocopus pileatus
Family Name Picidae
Length 16-19 inches (40-49 cm)
Weight 8.8-14.1 ounces (250-400 grams)
Wingspan 26-30 inches (66-76 cm)
Habitat Mature forests, woodland areas, and forested suburbs
Food Insects, ants, beetles, termites, fruits, nuts, and berries

2. Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-Headed Woodpecker

A vivid redhead, a black breast with a white abdomen, and white wings distinguish the red-headed woodpecker.

They favor dead trees that are close to water sources.

They’re the only woodpecker that’s not sexually dimorphic, meaning that males and females look alike.

The heads of immature birds are darker grey, and as time passes, their plumage changes to red as they get older.

They’re sprinkled throughout the landscape in little groups.

They may be found in Pete’s Pond and Veterans Park, among other places.

Because the Red-headed is among the few woodpecker species that is sexually monomorphic, we can’t tell the difference between a male and a female.

Its cry is a shrill, extremely loud “Churr!” and its drum is fast.

They are also among the only woodpecker species that can store food, usually in the form of acorns.

Red-headed Woodpecker numbers have fluctuated dramatically over time, according to scientists, and this has been linked to the supply of food supplies.

Even though birds are omnivorous, reductions in particular plant and insect species appear to harm them.

While they travel regionally, Ohio is their year-round home, and they may be seen in parks, preserves, and wildlife.

Red-headed woodpeckers are among the most visually appealing woodpeckers on the planet.

In contrast to their pearl-white tummies and black undersides with white-edged wings, their whole crown from the neck up is a bright scarlet that attracts the eye.

They’re among the few species of woodpecker that may be primarily found in the wilderness.

They are one of the world’s most beautiful woodpeckers.

They’ll wait for dragonflies to fly by from a nearby tree branch before swooping in for the kill.

They also gather seeds and nuts from the grass and store them in their homes.

They enjoy hanging around in fields and pastures, where there are lots of grains and flying insects to eat because they collect from the ground on a daily basis.

They are among the birds who don’t prefer to fly in isolation; rather, they prefer flying in flocks.

Red-headed woodpeckers can only be found in Ohio at all times of the year.

They also reproduce in Ohio.

The red-headed woodpecker has huge blocks of non-patterned color on its body.

This beautiful red-headed woodpecker, sometimes known as the “flying checkerboard,” is a tiny to medium-sized Woodpecker in Ohio.

With a scarlet face, a white body, and half-white, half-inky black wings, these birds have migrated from Michigan to Ohio. 

Red-headed Woodpeckers not only collect insects by pounding at wood, but they also grab insects in flight and seek them on the grass.

Grasslands and other open woodlands are mostly home to these Woodpeckers.

Bugs, nuts, berries, fruits, and flies are the main foods of the Red-headed Woodpecker.

Below are the characteristics of the Red-headed Woodpecker,

Scientific Name Melanerpes erythrocephalus
Family Name Picidae
Length 7.5-9.3 inches (19-24 cm)
Weight 2.7-3.4 ounces (76-96 grams)
Wingspan 16.5-17.7 inches (42-45 cm)
Habitat Deciduous forests, open woodlands, savannas, and parks
Food Insects, nuts, seeds, fruits, and occasionally small vertebrates

3. Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker, the name does not define the bird although, its normally white belly has a faint, pale red hue, it’s barely noticeable.

The elaborate black and white sequence of its ventral fins, its long black bill, and a brilliant red patch, which on the female is just on the back of the neck and on the male expand all over the back of its head or in front of its eyes.

Red-bellied woodpeckers possess red bellies with scarcely discernible red tints, while male woodpeckers exhibit redheads.

Some inexperienced bird observers may mistakenly classify them as red-headed since their bellies are rarely crimson.

Their name comes from a faintly colored region on their belly that seems to have been touched with blush.

A grey patch on the tip of the female’s head and a little red patch over her bill distinguish her.

Because their eponymous red belly is generally concealed from view due to how they perch, they may be identified more easily by their overall plumage pattern, unlike any other woodpecker in the area.

Once left by the woodpecker, these holes provide a vital home for hollow nesters who cannot dig their own holes.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers eat a diverse range of foods, including fruit on the vine, seed from birdfeeders, and insects residing beneath the tree bark, which they can remove with an adhesive tongue that may reach three times the length of their bills.

They can also adjust to various habitats, but they’re just likely to appear in urban back gardens in Ohio as they are in more rural locations.

Red-bellied woodpeckers appear to contradict their name mysteriously.

They like to remain in deciduous woods or suburban areas and are frequently drawn to bird feeders, especially those holding peanuts and sesame seeds.

They are among the most common woodpecker species, and they may be seen across Ohio at any time of year. Year.

Their cry is also distinct enough.

The red-bellied woodpecker is the second most frequent woodpecker in our region (after the downy).

Below are the characteristics of the Red-bellied Woodpecker,

Scientific Name Melanerpes carolinus
Family Name Picidae
Length 9-10.6 inches (23-27 cm)
Weight 2.0-3.2 ounces (56-91 grams)
Wingspan 13-17 inches (33-43 cm)
Habitat Woodlands, forests, wooded suburbs, and parks
Food Insects, spiders, fruits, nuts, seeds, and occasionally small vertebrates

4. Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

Northern Flickers may be found on the ground and in the treetops, but unlike those woodpeckers here on the list, they are more likely to be seen in groups.

Their principal food sources are ants, beetles, and other bugs that they hoover up with their particularly specialized tongues from the ground.

However, they may also frequent the ground beneath bird feeders.

They have a densely speckled chest, and a strong black band underneath the neck are the key field markings that distinguish the flicker.

The male’s skull is grey with such a strong red malar, whereas the female’s forehead is gray with a faint red crown.

Northern Flickers in Ohio are from the yellow-shafted subspecies, which have a bright yellow flash on the underparts of their wings.

The crimson Northern Flicker is the most common in the West.

In certain regions, the two converge towards the point wherein they generate orange-colored progeny.

Unfortunately, due to habitat degradation and competition for breeding sites with overcrowded European Starlings, the number of yellow-shafted flickers is declining in regions like Ohio.

When migrating through the state in the spring and fall, groups of flickers can be observed feeding on the ground in great numbers.

Northern flickers are indeed a unique kind of woodpecker because they do not behave like other woodpeckers.

They will jump along the ground in search of insects like ants rather than digging trees for bugs.

They will drum on trees from time to time, but primarily to communicate rather than to hunt insects.

Northern flickers may be found practically everywhere in the United States and Canada, as well as areas of Central America, demonstrating their adaptability to a variety of temperatures.

The eastern variant of northern flickers, which is located in Ohio, has a yellow hue on their tails as well as the typical northern flicker features of white bellies with black dots and a red patch on top of their heads.

Northern flickers are huge, brown woodpeckers with black patches on their backs.

They also have brilliant yellow flying plumage and a dazzling white rump while in flight.

The flicker, unlike some of the other woodpeckers described above, does not scratch at trees for food; instead, it excavates a nest.

Like an anteater, they devour ants and other insects by pecking into the soil and flicking their long, adhesive tongues into the soil to catch them.

The term “flicker” comes from their foraging technique.

Below are the characteristics of the Northern Flicker,

Scientific Name Colaptes auratus
Family Name Picidae
Length 11-14 inches (28-36 cm)
Weight 3.9-5.6 ounces (110-160 grams)
Wingspan 16-21 inches (41-53 cm)
Habitat Forests, woodlands, urban areas with trees, and grasslands
Food Insects, ants, beetles, fruits, nuts, seeds, and berries

5. Black-Backed Woodpecker

Black-Backed Woodpecker

The Black-backed Woodpecker, also known as the Arctic three-toed Woodpecker, is a medium-sized Woodpecker that lives in North American woodlands. 

The head, back, wings, and rump of the Black-backed Woodpecker are all black, with a white neck, long tail, and white feathers.

Females lack the bright crown patch that males have.

Black-backed woodpeckers live in coniferous woods and feed on dead trees, particularly burnt trees with exposed trunks. 

The woodpecker species may weigh between 61 and 88 grams and reach a length of 9.1 inches.

The bird’s entire wingspan ranges from 15.8 to 16.5 inches.

Below are the characteristics of the Black-Backed Woodpecker,

Scientific Name Picoides arcticus
Family Name Picidae
Length 8.3-9.8 inches (21-25 cm)
Weight 1.8-3.3 ounces (50-94 grams)
Wingspan 16.5 inches (42 cm)
Habitat Boreal forests, burned or recently disturbed areas with dead trees
Food Insects, especially wood-boring beetles and their larvae

6. Ivory-Billed Woodpecker

Ivory-Billed Woodpecker
Credits – Phys.org

It has a shiny black plumage and is a handsome crested woodpecker.

It features noticeable white lines running down the back from the cheeks.

The edges of the wings are white. 

It gets its name from the size of its bill, which is huge and white.

They used to live in main highland forests and deep swamplands and flourished in disturbed environments.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the woodpecker species is highly endangered and may soon become extinct.

It thrives in areas with a lot of dead and rotting trees, such as hardwood marshes and pine woods.

The bird species are thought to mate for life, and these couples are known to live together.

Every year, from January and May, the mating season takes place.

Ivory-Billed, The woodpecker, formally known as Campephilus principalis, is one of the world’s biggest woodpecker species, with a wingspan of up to 30 inches and a length of up to 20 inches. 

Below are the characteristics of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker,

Scientific Name Campephilus principalis
Family Name Picidae
Length 19-21 inches (48-53 cm)
Weight 15-20 ounces (430-570 grams)
Wingspan 28-30 inches (71-76 cm)
Habitat Bottomland hardwood forests, swamps, and riverine ecosystems
Food Insects, larvae, wood-boring beetles, and occasionally fruits and nuts

7. Red-Cockaded Woodpecker

Red-Cockaded Woodpecker

Red-Cockaded is indigenous to Southeastern America, where it historically thrived in huge longleaf pine forests.

It’s a medium-sized Woodpecker with a black head and neck that enclose big white cheek patches. 

They bore holes in living lines that have been weakened by heartwood rot.

This species has fallen dramatically as a result of habitat destruction, and it was designated as endangered in 1970.

A little red stripe on each side of its black hat, known as a cockade, distinguishes the male species.

The egg, larvae, and adult stages of the woodpecker species are the principal food sources.

Bees, wasps, cockroaches, beetles, and other insects found in or on pine trees are also eaten by it.

It loves to build its nest in old-growth pine woods.

Below are the characteristics of the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker,

Scientific Name Leuconotopicus borealis
Family Name Picidae
Length 7-9 inches (18-23 cm)
Weight 1.5-1.7 ounces (43-49 grams)
Wingspan 14-16 inches (36-41 cm)
Habitat Pine savannas and mature pine forests with longleaf or loblolly pines
Food Insects, especially ants and beetles, spiders, and tree sap

8. Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Ohio is home to both the smallest and biggest woodpeckers in North America, with downy woodpeckers being on the smaller end of the spectrum.

Downy woodpeckers have two black columns, one on each side of their back, with a broad white span in the middle, and are black and white.

Swirls of white specks on black make up their wings.

A red mark on the back of the neck of male downy woodpeckers can be seen.

Downy woodpeckers prefer deciduous woodlands in Ohio, in contrast to downy woodpeckers in the southern United States, who prefer houses near rivers.

Because downy woodpeckers are by far the most common woodpeckers in Ohio, you can see them in almost any place.

Downy Woodpecker has the same upright attitude and vertical body structure as its much bigger brethren, yet it’s only around the size of a household sparrow.

It has exquisite black-and-white contrasts in its feathers, including black stripes throughout its forehead, a black wingspan with white dots, a dull white breast, and a black back with a white patch.

On the rear of the male’s head is a brilliant red patch.

Even when they beat, the sound does not reach far.

They’re the woodpeckers most often to be seen at yard bird feeders, nearby streams, and rivers, and they’re friendly enough to get up and personal with.

For protection from predators, they form groups with Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, and White-breasted Nuthatches during the winter months.

The male and female work together in the spring to construct a nest cavity in a dying or dead deciduous tree, which can require up to three weeks.

Breeders that are successful can have four to 6 eggs that will mature in about 12 days.

Below are the characteristics of the Downy Woodpecker,

Scientific Name Picoides pubescens
Family Name Picidae
Length 5.5-6.7 inches (14-17 cm)
Weight 0.7-1.0 ounces (20-28 grams)
Wingspan 9.8-11.8 inches (25-30 cm)
Habitat Woodlands, parks, gardens, and urban areas with trees
Food Insects, beetles, ants, caterpillars, seeds, and berries

9. Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

At first sight, the Hairy Woodpecker and the Downy Woodpecker appear to be nearly identical, yet keen birdwatchers may spot the distinctions.

The most evident difference between a Hairy and a Downy would be that the Hairy is up to 4 inches longer, sleeker, and less pudgy, with a much more erect posture and a considerably longer and sharper bill.

They both have similar cries and drumming skills, but the larger bird makes louder noises.

Both birds get their names from a band of white on their rear ends that appear like hair follicles on such a Hairy Woodpecker but are soft and pillow-like on a Downy Woodpecker.

Although the larger bird will frequent bird feeders, it prefers to ascend higher into the canopy in the wild than its little cousin.

Both live in Ohio all year.

However, Downy is significantly more frequent.

Hairy woodpeckers are fascinating because they resemble downy woodpeckers so closely.

If you’re having problems telling the contrast between the different species, since many bird observers do, there are a few indications that could help.

They are bigger than downy woodpeckers, and because of their larger size, they typically nest in larger trees and consume insects from them.

Hairy woodpeckers also seem to have an inexhaustible source of energy when this comes to dining, and they have been observed to dive deep into treetops to retrieve their favored food source, wood-boring insect larvae.

They have a greater range than downy woodpeckers and may be seen all over the United States and Canada except in the far north of Canada and the far south of the United States.

Below are the characteristics of the Hairy Woodpecker,

Scientific Name Leuconotopicus villosus
Family Name Picidae
Length 7.1-10.2 inches (18-26 cm)
Weight 1.4-3.4 ounces (40-95 grams)
Wingspan 13-16.1 inches (33-41 cm)
Habitat Forests, woodlands, and wooded suburban areas
Food Insects, spiders, ants, caterpillars, seeds, and nuts

10. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied sapsuckers split Ohio in half, with sightings occurring exclusively during periodic stops during the winter in the northern half and some yellow-bellied sapsuckers residing in the southern half at the end of their annual journey.

Although sapsuckers seldom stay in Ohio on their migratory voyage, many will proceed far further south.

They feed primarily on sap from deciduous trees, which they get by drilling horizontal rows of holes that enable sap to flow out of the tree.

This sap also will attract insects, who will enjoy the same sweetness as the sapsuckers and all these woodpeckers will eat them.

As the sap from the tree continues to drain, yellow-bellied sapsuckers will return to the spots where they sucked sap many times a day.

They do not breed in Ohio, preferring to nest farther north until migrating south in the fall.

Males possess red necks, while females feature yellow necks, and these birds have bellies.

The remainder of their physique is speckled in black and white.

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers and Hairy Woodpeckers are virtually identical in size.

They appear to be physically similar both to Downy and the Hairy at first look.

All three birds do have black stripes all across the eyes of a somewhat white face, and they are predominantly black and white.

Sapsuckers may be distinguished from the other two species by several easy-to-spot field markings.

The most migratory of Ohio’s woodpeckers is the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker While human evolution has eaten into their habitat, they can still reproduce in the southern half of the state.

They can be spotted more frequently during migration in the spring and fall.

Below are the characteristics of the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker,

Scientific Name Sphyrapicus varius
Family Name Picidae
Length 7.5-8.3 inches (19-21 cm)
Weight 1.5-1.9 ounces (42-54 grams)
Wingspan 13-16 inches (33-41 cm)
Habitat Mixed forests, wooded areas, and edges near water sources
Food Sap from trees, insects, tree sap, and fruits

Check out this article to learn about the Types of Woodpeckers in New York.


In conclusion, the diverse array of woodpeckers found in Ohio is a testament to the state’s rich biodiversity and thriving ecosystems.

From the striking Red-headed Woodpecker to the elusive Pileated Woodpecker, each species adds its distinct charm and ecological significance to our natural landscapes.

By understanding and appreciating these woodpeckers’ roles as nature’s carpenters and insect controllers, we can foster a deeper connection to the delicate balance of life in our environment.

Moreover, preserving their habitats and providing suitable nesting sites can play a crucial role in ensuring their continued presence in our state for generations to come.

As we observe these dynamic birds in action, drumming on trees and probing for insects, we are reminded of the intricate web of life that surrounds us.

It is our collective responsibility to cherish and protect the wildlife that calls Ohio home, including these ten remarkable woodpecker species.

So, whether you’re an avid birdwatcher, nature lover, or simply someone seeking to appreciate the wonders of the natural world, take a moment to embrace the beauty and significance of Ohio’s woodpeckers.

Let us celebrate their diversity and continue to be stewards of the environment, ensuring a harmonious coexistence with these awe-inspiring creatures.

With each drumming beat and fluttering flight, they remind us of the enduring magic that lies within our own backyard.


What habitats do woodpeckers prefer in Ohio?

Woodpeckers in Ohio inhabit a variety of ecosystems, from deciduous and mixed forests to woodlands, parks, and urban areas with mature trees. They often seek out dead or decaying trees for nesting and foraging, as these provide a rich source of insects and larvae.

How can I identify different woodpecker species in my backyard?

To distinguish woodpeckers, pay attention to their size, markings, and unique features. Observe their color patterns, head markings, and bill size. Field guides or online resources with illustrations and photos can be helpful tools in identifying these fascinating birds.

How can I attract woodpeckers to my backyard in Ohio?

You can attract woodpeckers by offering suitable food sources and providing nesting opportunities. Consider installing suet feeders, offering sunflower seeds, and providing dead trees or nest boxes as potential nesting sites. Water sources, like bird baths, can also attract woodpeckers and other birds.

Are woodpeckers migratory in Ohio, or do they stay year-round?

Some woodpecker species in Ohio, like the Red-headed Woodpecker, are migratory, while others, such as the Downy Woodpecker and Hairy Woodpecker, are resident and stay year-round. The migratory patterns vary depending on the species and the availability of food and suitable nesting sites.

Are woodpeckers federally protected in Ohio?

Some woodpecker species in Ohio, like the Red-headed Woodpecker and the Pileated Woodpecker, are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a federal law that safeguards migratory birds and their nests across the United States. It is essential to respect and protect these birds and their habitats to ensure their continued presence and well-being.

Last Updated on July 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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