8 Different Species of Woodpeckers in Virginia (VA)

Woodpeckers are most renowned for their skill of using their beaks to make a hole in the tree branches and trunks. They take satisfaction in foraging beneath the bark of trees.

These birds come in a variety of hues, one of the most common of which are white and black, having prominent red bursts.

For every birder, this is one of their preferred bird species to observe and entice to their backyard. This essay will look at the Woodpeckers located throughout Virginia.

Virginia is a US state located on the country’s south-eastern coast. It has the gorgeous Appalachian Mountains towards the east and neighbors the Chesapeake Bay.

As a result, these two elements dominate the geography and climate changes across Virginia. Virginia is home to a wide variety of animals and plants, including birds.

In Virginia, we find eight species of woodpeckers, some of which are uncommon and endangered. Woodpeckers may be seen in big groups across Virginia, regardless of where you live.

There is a vast diversity of species beside them, making such birds interesting to observe.

They include:

  1. Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers
  2. Red-Headed Woodpeckers
  3. Pileated Woodpeckers 
  4. Red-Bellied Woodpeckers
  5. Hairy Woodpeckers
  6. Downy Woodpeckers 
  7. Northern Flickers
  8. Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers

Seven of Virginia’s eight woodpecker species are regular inhabitants. This implies they’ll be visible throughout the year. Several species do not reproduce in the state.

Here is a complete explanation of each Virginia woodpecker species. We’ll additionally tell you where and when you may see these amazing birds. More importantly, figure out how to invite each species to your garden.

Yellow-Bellied SapsuckerYellow-Bellied Sapsucker
Red-Headed WoodpeckerRed-Headed Woodpecker
Pileated WoodpeckerPileated Woodpecker
Red-Bellied WoodpeckerRed-Bellied Woodpecker
Hairy WoodpeckerHairy Woodpecker
Downy WoodpeckerDowny Woodpecker
Northern FlickerNorthern Flicker
Red-Cockaded WoodpeckerRed-Cockaded Woodpecker

Different Species of Woodpeckers in Virginia (VA)

1. Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers possess white stomachs with a yellow tinge. They have also black back sides, wings, and tails with white striping. The red crests and white bands across the face, however, are what set these birds apart.

Juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are distinguished from adults by their entire brown feathers rather than white and black.

Having a look at their necks, you could determine the difference between females and males. Males have a red neck, whereas females have a white neck.


Male Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers weigh 1.5 to 1.9 ounces, 7.1 to 8.7 inches in length, and have a wingspan of 13.4 to 15.8 inches.


Unlike most of the other woodpeckers on this document, this one does not have to reside on dead trees.

It may be found in a variety of woods, including forest borders, pastures, and orchards. You may also find it in fruit and maple trees, that’s where they obtain their sap.


Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, even as the name implies, boreholes inside the interior of the trunk of the tree to ingest the sap. They also consume berries, spiders, and ants. 

The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker species is steady and robust at 10 million individuals. With a Continental Concern Score of 7/20, they do not even appear to become a genuine threat.

2. Red-Headed Woodpecker

Red-Headed Woodpecker

The Red-headed Woodpecker does have a red head, black wings having white stripes, as well as a white stomach as the name indicates. The chicks are born having brown heads, however, the red hue develops as they grow.


Red-headed Woodpeckers weigh approximately 2 to 3.2 ounces, 7.5 to 9.8 inches long, and have a wingspan of 16.5 to 16.7 inches.

Because you can’t distinguish the adult male and female Red-headed Woodpecker apart only on looks, you must study their mating activity.

Whereas the female and male work with each other to make their nest, the male handles most of the digging. In addition, both sexes participate in incubation, although the male does it during nighttime.


Red-headed Woodpeckers could be found on forest borders, open pine forests, and orchards. It’s critical that they live in a wooded region with dead trees. Dead trees offer essential for nesting.

Unfortunately, because dead trees are unsightly to landowners, such trees are regularly destroyed, reducing the number of good nesting places for the woodpecker.

The fall in dead trees boosted the struggle for good nesting places among Red-headed Woodpeckers and many other birds. All of these factors contributed to the species’ numbers fall.


Red-headed Woodpeckers consume a variety of invertebrates, including grasshoppers and beetles. Seeds, nuts, and fruit are also consumed.

3. Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Black plumage including a white stripe on the forehead and neck distinguishes Pileated Woodpeckers. Of course, the bird’s primary noticeable feature is its bright red crest with a red mustache.

The female Pileated Woodpecker seems to be mostly identical to the male, with the exception of a black mustache and head as well as a smaller red crown.


Pileated Woodpeckers measure 15.8 to 19.3 inches in length, weigh 8.8 to 12.3 ounces, and have a wingspan of 26 to 29.5 inches. That’s the largest woodpecker here on listing.


Pileated Woodpeckers may be found in deciduous woodlands, such as maple forests and cypress swamps. They may also be spotted in parks, suburbs, and any woodland with huge, mature, dead trees.

This species of woodpecker has not yet been listed as endangered. It had a Continental Concern Score of 7/20.

They make their nests and forage for food in dying or dead trees, which people routinely cut down, ruining their food resources and making them vulnerable to predators.


Pileated Woodpeckers consume a variety of insects, primarily carpenter ants, but also flies, larvae, and caterpillars. They also consume nuts and fruits, including blackberry and hackberry.

4. Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

The Red-bellied Woodpecker is often confused with the Red-headed Woodpecker. Please remember that the Red-bellied Woodpecker does not even have a red head, only a red cape and neck.

When you pair it with the black and white stripes on its own back as well as the subtle scarlet underside, you have a very distinct bird. Unfortunately, the red stripe on the abdomen isn’t particularly noticeable, so don’t be surprised if you don’t notice it at all.

The male has a bright nape and red cape, while the female has a red neck and a splatter of red well above the beak.


Red-bellied woodpeckers weigh 2  to 3.2 ounces, measure 9 to 10.5 inches in length, and have a wingspan of 13 to 16.5 inches.


These woodpeckers may be found in a wide variety of ecosystems, including pine Flatwoods, hardwood forests, and pine-hardwood forests.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers are much more adaptable than Red-cockaded and Red-headed Woodpeckers. Their adaptability has helped their growth and population growth in recent years, as seen by their 7/20 Continental Concern Score.


Flies, caterpillars, and ants are among the insects eaten by red-bellied woodpeckers. Fruit, seeds, and nuts are also consumed.

5. Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpeckers feature black wings with white markings, a black head with white cheeks, and a top side crimson splash. When combined with the broad white lines that identify the black back and head, the Hairy Woodpecker resembles the Downy Woodpecker nearly identically.


So, how do you distinguish among them? The first thing you must check for is size discrepancies. The Downy Woodpecker measures 5.5 to 6.7 inches in length, whereas the Hairy Woodpecker measures 7.1 to 10.2 inches. As a result, there is a clear distinction.

If the size difference wasn’t clear and sufficient, you saw how big the bill was. The beak of a Downy Woodpecker is smaller than just its forehead. On the other hand, the beak of a Hairy Woodpecker is nearly as long.

If you really can’t even tell them apart, look just at the white outer tails of both of them. Hairy Woodpeckers possess plain white exterior tail feathers, but Downy Woodpeckers feature black striping on their outer tail feathers.

Male Hairy Woodpeckers get a red mark on the top of their heads, whereas females do not. They have a wingspan of 13 to 16.1 inches and weigh 1.4 to 3.4 ounces.


Hairy Woodpeckers may be found in just about any deciduous woodland with huge trees. They may also be found in burnt woods, orchards, and suburbia.


Hairy Woodpeckers mostly consume invertebrates. You’ll see that they specifically target the larvae of bark beetles, including wood-boring beetles. However, they also consume caterpillars and ants, along with nuts and fruits.

Hairy Woodpeckers appear to have been in relatively good health, with a Continental Concern Score of around 6/20 and an estimated number of 9 million.

6. Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Many woodpeckers on this list exhibit the distinctive black and white feathers of the Downy Woodpecker. They feature white patches on their black wings, a black back, and a black head with broad white stripes.

The male Downy Woodpecker does have a red patch around his forehead, while the female doesn’t.


Downy Woodpeckers weigh approximately 0.7 to 1 ounce, 5.5 to 6.7 inches long, and have a wingspan of 9.8 to 11.8 inches. While they are plentiful in Virginia, viewing them may be difficult due to their modest size.


Downy Woodpeckers may be located in deciduous forests, forest borders, and clearings. They may also be found in orchards, parks, and residential yards.


They mostly consume insects like ants, caterpillars, and beetles. They also consume fruit and seeds, such as berries and grains. You could observe one or two of them if you have a suet feeder around your backyard.

Downy Woodpeckers are not in serious danger since their populations have remained rather steady for the most part. The IUCN Red List classified it as “Least Concern” due to its projected population of approximately 13 to 14 million people.

This classification signifies that there is no reason why Downy Woodpeckers should be considered endangered.

7. Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

Northern Flickers have brown feathers, black spots on their undersides, and black striping on their head, as opposed to the white and black appearance of other woodpeckers on this page.

But it isn’t all. There are two types of Northern Flickers: Red-shafted Flickers and Yellow-shafted Flickers. However, only the Yellow-shafted Flicker appears prevalent throughout Virginia, so we’ll concentrate on that species.

Although the Yellow-shafted Flicker does have a brown neck and face, its top head is gray with such a red nape.

Male Yellow-shafted Flickers have black mustaches, while females do not. The female and male both have golden shafts.


Northern Flickers are approximately weighed 3.9 to 5.6 ounces, 11 to 14 inches long, and have a wingspan of 16.5 to 20.1 inches. They may be found in any wide location having trees, such as parks, groves, or forest margins.


Northern Flickers have been the only species of a woodpecker on this checklist that feeds from the land. They devour a variety of invertebrates, including caterpillars, ants, and beetles, and attack them from the air. Seeds, nuts, and fruit are also consumed.

So, be cautious when strolling since you can scare some more of them away.

Although they are not in grave danger, the population of Northern Flickers has already been falling as people have destroyed their habitats. They received a Continental Concern Score of 10/20.

8. Red-Cockaded Woodpecker

Red-Cockaded Woodpecker

Don’t be misled by the title. Red-cockaded Woodpeckers do not have red feathers. In reality, the black capes and white cheeks with black and white markings on their backs differentiate particular woodpeckers.

The term “Crimson-cockaded” refers to a little red splash somewhat on side of the male’s black cape, which is barely visible. The female lacks the red patch, although immature Red-cockaded Woodpeckers get it on the top of their forehead.


Red-cockaded woodpeckers are approximately weighed 1.5 to 1.8 ounces, 7.9 to 9.1 inches in length, and have a wingspan of 13 to 16 inches.


Originally, Red-cockaded Woodpeckers may be found in ancient pine woods with wide understory and occasional fires. To view them currently, you’ll have to go to a protected national forest or natural refuge.

As falling and fire suppression continued, it’s become increasingly more difficult for certain woodpeckers to find an appropriate location to dwell in. Their numbers declined from 1.5 million to 10,000 woodpeckers, putting them on the list of endangered species.

Although, in recent years, significant attempts have been made to save the Red-cockaded Woodpecker’s life.

Check out this article on Types of Woodpeckers in Tennessee.


If you enjoy birds, Virginia does have a lot to offer you. You’ll admire the Old Dominion’s bird variety, which includes Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, and others.

While the woodpeckers mentioned above have many resemblances, each bird has its unique history, features, and contributions to society. They’re all one-of-a-kind in their own way!


What do woodpecker calls sound like?

Red-headed Woodpeckers make a variety of loud cackles, chirps, and other cries. Their most frequent cry is a harsh, shrill tchur that sounds similar to a Red-bellied Woodpecker but is also higher-pitched and less rolling. They produce loud charr-charr tones when they chase each other.

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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