13 Different Species of Woodpeckers in Texas

If you enjoy bird watching and are fascinated by woodpeckers, then you are lucky. A variety of woodpecker types call Texas home; some may be year-round inhabitants, while some are only visible during certain seasons.

Today, we’ll go through all 14 woodpecker species that can be found in Texas. We would also go through various physical characteristics and calling noises to assist you in distinguishing and separating them.

Red-Headed WoodpeckerRed-Headed Woodpecker
Yellow-Bellied SapsuckerYellow-Bellied Sapsucker
Acorn WoodpeckerAcorn Woodpecker
Red-Cockaded WoodpeckerRed-Cockaded Woodpecker
Gold-Fronted WoodpeckerGold-Fronted Woodpecker
Red-Bellied WoodpeckerRed-Bellied Woodpecker
Red-Naped SapsuckerRed-Naped Sapsucker
Hairy WoodpeckerHairy Woodpecker
Downy WoodpeckerDowny Woodpecker
Ladder-Backed WoodpeckerLadder-Backed Woodpecker
Williamson’s SapsuckerWilliamson’s Sapsucker
Pileated WoodpeckerPileated Woodpecker
Lewis’s WoodpeckerLewis’s Woodpecker

Different Species of Woodpeckers in Texas

1. Red-Headed Woodpecker

Red-Headed Woodpecker

Red-headed woodpeckers may be medium-sized species endemic to North America’s tropical regions. Since they are called “red-headed,” these tricolor species have such a red forehead.

Their heads and necks are red, whereas their underparts are dazzling white and black wings.

Red-headed woodpeckers are excellent flying hunters, catching tiny bugs in flight. However, this doesn’t really imply that they dislike plant materials; they like eating a variety of nuts and berries.

Scientific name Melanerpes erythrocephalus
Lifespan 9 Years
Body length 7.5 to 9.8 in (19 to 25 cm)
Weight about 56 to 90 g 
Wingspan about 16 in (42 cm)
Diet Omnivores (insects and berries)

They graze on the surface for scattered berries in addition to capturing food in flight. They are one of 4 woodpecker types that keep food for future use.

People in North America often gave such birds many nicknames according to their location, including “flag bird,” flying checkerboard, “jellycoat,” and so on. Such birds may be identified by their “weird” and “tchur tchur” noises.

2. Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied sapsuckers seem to be cousins of Red-breasted and Red-naped sapsuckers. The yellow abdomen that prompted the birds’ names can only be used in females, not males.

Male Yellow-bellied sapsuckers are distinguished by their dazzling white chest and underparts. They have quite a fading red mark on their heads, and that is brighter in males than in females.

Scientific name Sphyrapicus varius
Lifespan  about 7 Years
Body length 19 to 21 cm (7.5 to 8.3 in)
Wingspan about 34 to 40 cm (13.4 to 15.8 in)
Weight about 35 to 62 g
Diet Omnivores (insects, tree sap, and fruits)

Yellow-bellied sapsuckers feature black wings with white tips, a short, chiseled beak, and grey legs with either a blue or green tinge. These birds make a range of noises. Males speak in a nasal tone that appears like”wee-wee wee-wee” and “neaaaah.”

During the mating season, they make “kwee-urk” noises to attract females. These species are still not regular inhabitants of Texas, although they do travel here throughout the winter.

3. Acorn Woodpecker

Acorns Woodpecker

Acorn Woodpeckers are mainly localized in east Texas and also have a fairly limited distribution in North America. They may be found in oak or pine-oak woodlands, where they consume acorns and a variety of invertebrates.

They, like other woodpecker species, might approach suet feeders occasionally but are less common than a Downy.

Scientific name Melanerpes formicivorus
Lifespan about ten years
Body length 7.5 – 9.1 in (19 to 23 cm)
Weight about 65 to 90 g
Wingspan about 13.8 to 16.9 in (35 to 43 cm)
Diet Omnivores (insects and acorns)

They’re noted for boring granary holes in trees and collecting nuts in them, up to 50,000 nuts in certain circumstances. They squeeze them into these holes so firmly that other species can’t get them out.

They are clearly stockpiling this stuff for a time when food is scarce. They’ll also ferociously protect these food stores from anyone who attempts to steal them.

4. Red-Cockaded Woodpecker

Red-Cockaded Woodpecker

The Red-breasted Woodpeckers are among medium-sized birds native to the southern United States.

Even though they are termed “Crimson-cockaded,” their red cockade is scarcely visible, particularly from a distance. They seem black and white to every birdwatcher.

Upon closer inspection, therefore, you will notice that the males get a faint red stripe upon every side of their blackheads. Females do not have the red cockade.

Scientific name Picoides borealis
Diet Omnivores (insects, fruits, seeds, eggs, and nuts)
Body length 7.1 to 9.1 in (18 to 23 cm)
Weight about 40 to 56 grams
Wingspan about 13.4 to 16 in (34 to 41 cm)
Lifespan about 16 years

Red-cockaded woodpeckers are generally non-migratory species that can become territorial. They would want to live in the oak savannahs.

The Red-cockaded woodpecker has already been listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

5. Gold-Fronted Woodpecker

Golden Fronted Woodpecker

Gold-fronted woodpeckers are a type of North American woodpecker that lives throughout mesquite forests, tropical rainforests, and riparian woods.

Even though the majority of their skin is feathered in pale grey plumage, the golden spots on their forehead, neck, and abdomen clearly distinguish them.

These species are related to Red-bellied woodpeckers.

Scientific name Melanerpes aurifrons
Lifespan about 5 to 6 years
Body length 22 to 26 cm (8 to 10 in)
Weight about 73 to 99 g
Wingspan about 42 to 44 cm (16 to 17 in)
Diet Insectivore, Omnivore (insects and fruits, Especially jelly and oranges)

As omnivores, such birds enjoy a range of veggies and fruits, as well as tiny invertebrates like beetles and ants.

Grasshoppers are an important element of their nutrition. Although they often nest in wide forests, they can occasionally be seen on telephone wires or fence poles.

6. Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Whereas these woodpeckers are dubbed “Red-bellied,” their abdomen is hard to identify due to their fading color. In contrast, the red spot on their heads is significantly more noticeable than the red patch on their stomachs.

They are medium-sized species with a grey head and underparts that have faded. Their wings are black with a few faint white stripes. These birds build their nests in trees with softer structures, including elm, maple, and willow.

Scientific name Melanerpes carolinus
Lifespan about 12 years 
Body length about 9 to 10 in (22 to 26 cm)
Weight about 56 to 91 g
Wingspan about 15 to 18 in (38 to 46 cm)
Diet Insectivore, Omnivore

The elder the tree, the more they like it. To drive other birds away from their nest, they identify the area around it by drilling a hole inside of it.

The Red-bellied woodpecker’s calls include “churr churr churr,” “chiv chiv,”  “thrra thrraa,” and others. During the mating season, you may hear them pecking and calling throughout Texas.

7. Red-Naped Sapsucker

Red-Napped Sapsucker

Red-naped sapsuckers seem to be medium-sized species in the woodpecker group of North America. Some ornithologists thought these species were subspecies related to Yellow-bellied sapsuckers.

Moreover, recent research discovered that they would have a separate character that cannot be combined with some other woodpeckers.

Despite tree fluid being their main source of nutrition, they may also consume berries, seeds, and insects.

Scientific name Sphyrapicus nuchalis
Lifespan about five years 
Body length 7.5 to 8.3 in (19 to 21 cm)
Weight about 32 to 66 g
Wingspan about 13 to 26.5 in
Diet Insectivore, Omnivore

The Red-naped sapsuckers get a red forehead, nape, and neck, with a black body having white streaks. Although they live in Texas all year, a few of them migrate during the mating season.

8. Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpeckers have been well-known throughout the United States for being among the most active woodpecker subspecies.

These species are not migrating and may be seen in Texas throughout the year.

Scientific name Leuconotopicus villosus
Lifespan about 20 to 30 years
Body length 7 to 10 in (18 to 26 cm)
Weight about 40 to 95 g 
Wingspan about 13 to 17 in (33 to 43 cm)
Diet Omnivores (insects of the wood and tree sap)

Their neck and body are black, having pale-white undersides and a small, pointy beak. They make a sound such as “pee-ik pee-ik” and “peek peek peek.”

9. Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Despite being among the tiniest representatives of the woodpecker genus, Downy Woodpeckers are one of the most common woodpecker birds in the Americas.

These birds do have black and white plumage that is identical to those of Hairy Woodpeckers, although they are tiny. You may also identify them by their characteristic calling voice, “pik” or “kee kee kee.”

Scientific name Picoides pubescens
Lifespan about 12 years
Body length 5.5 to 7.1 in (14 to 18 cm)
Weight about 20 to 33 g
Wingspan about 9.8 to 12.2 in (25 to 31 cm)
Diet Insectivore, Omnivores

Downy woodpeckers live in deciduous forests and are year-round inhabitants throughout north-eastern Texas. They are non-migratory species that frequently visit backyard bird feeders looking for water or food.

10. Ladder-Backed Woodpecker

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Ladder-backed woodpeckers are one of the smallest species of the woodpecker family, called from their black and white wings with a ladder appearance.

Their underparts are entirely white, with only very few black patches on their rump. A crimson hairy band covers their head. Males are violent birds who frequently compete with some other males of their breed or even other woodpecker types.

Scientific name Dryobates scalaris
Lifespan about 4 to 5 years 
Body length 16.5 to 19 cm (6.5-7.5 in)
Weight about 198 g
Wingspan about 11 to 12 in
Diet Insectivore, Omnivores

Ladder-backed woodpeckers are regular inhabitants of Texas and enjoy drier, woody regions such as deserts. They are less common in the far east and more common in the west of Texas.

During the summertime, you can clearly notice them. However, they are becoming less energetic and hard to track throughout the wintertime.

11. Williamson’s Sapsucker

Williamson’s Sapsucker
Credits – Wikipedia

Williamson’s sapsuckers are vividly colored members of the woodpecker species. Despite their bodies being covered in black and white plumes, the male Williamson’s sapsuckers have yellow feathers on their abdomen.

Scientific name Sphyrapicus thyroideus
Lifespan about seven years
Body length 8.3 to 9.8 in (21 to 24 cm)
Weight about 44 to 55 g
Wingspan about 17 in (43 cm)
Diet Omnivores (fruits, insects, and tree sap)

Females have a brown forehead, a pale-yellow chest, and fine, black bands on the top and sides, which distinguishes them from males.

Williamson’s sapsuckers like to reside in wide conifer woods and are somewhat migrating. Because these birds really aren’t regular inhabitants of Texas, they are not observed in the state even during mating season. They are only visible in Texas, mostly during the cold season.

12. Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

The Pileated Woodpecker is America’s biggest woodpecker, with a body length of up to 19 inches. They get a red crown on their heads that has earned them the moniker “pileated.”

Scientific name Dryocopus pileatus
Diet Omnivores (fruits, nuts, and insects)
Body length 16 to 19 in (40 to 49 cm)
Weight about 250 to 400 g 
Wingspan about 26 to 30 in (66 to 75 cm)
Lifespan about 13 years

Apart from only a few white stripes along their flanks and wings, their body is completely black. They generate a loud pounding noise that many bird watchers use to locate them.

13. Lewis’s Woodpecker

Lewis's Woodpecker
Credits – Wikipedia

Lewis’s woodpeckers are one of the biggest woodpecker types found in North America. Alexander Wilson, an American ornithologist, was the first one to locate and identify them in 1811.

These species have blackish-green skin with a hint of crimson on the breast and a black rump. Their wings are also darkly pigmented. They have a grey neck and upper chest on their face.

Scientific name Melanerpes lewis
Diet Omnivores (nuts and insects)
Body length 26 – 28 centimeters (10 to 11 in)
Weight about 88 to 138 grams
Wingspan about 4 to 52 cm (19 to 20 in)
Lifespan about 4 to 11 years

Lewis’s woodpeckers get the widest wings of any American woodpecker. They also fly like crows, having slow, regular wing flaps. During the non-breeding period, these species may be found in northwestern Texas.

Check out this article to learn about the Types of Woodpeckers in South Carolina.


Texas is known for its rich bird population, and woodpeckers are everywhere. The 13 woodpecker species found in Texas represent all four native woodpecker families.

If you really want to bring such loud, tiny birds to your garden, fill your bird feeder with black sunflower seeds, which are lovers of all woodpeckers.


Is it possible to find woodpeckers in Central Texas?

Pileated Woodpeckers may be found over Texas’s eastern border and are present all year. But, sightings have been reported around the state’s core parts.

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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