- Eagle vs Falcon: It’s Complicated! - October 3, 2022
- Best Bird Bath Fountain Ideas: Because Your Feathered Friends Deserve a Water Feature! - October 3, 2022
- Collared Forest Falcon Guide- Ninja Raptors - October 3, 2022
Many people seem to have a love/hate relationship with woodpeckers. While I am always thrilled to see one in my garden, others loathe the holes they can create in all manner of structures.
I have never had a woodpecker make a nest in the side of my house- so I love them. My favorite species is the golden-naped woodpecker, which frequently visits our bird feeder to munch on fruit. You might think that it is unusual for a woodpecker to eat fruit, but many species have been documented enjoying a wide variety of foods. There is a small family of golden-naped woodpeckers that hang out near our banana feeder. I call the dad “punky” because his back is black with dramatic white abstract splashes. For some reason, it reminds me of a sex pistols album.
Woodpeckers are frequently spotted in their classic behavior of clinging to the sides of trees or running vertically up branches. This is possible due to their specially adapted feet and stiffened tails. They also have a notoriously territorial nature. We have noticed on the bird feeder that no one messes with the woodpeckers!
There are 220 species of woodpeckers, split into 4 sub-families and 33 genera. They can be found in almost every corner of the globe, although almost half the total species are in the Americas.
So, let’s get into it and break down all the amazing characteristics of woodpeckers, the interesting outliers, and how to spot them as a birder.
- Taxonomy: Family Picidae, 220 species, 33 genera.
- Size: 7.5 cm to 60cms
- Range: Worldwide apart from Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and Madagascar.
- Diet: Mostly Ants and Wood Boring Beetles
- Types of Woodpeckers: True Woodpeckers, Piculets, Wrynecks, and Sapsuckers.
- Coloration: Black, White, Red, Yellow, Brown, and Olive Green
- Habitat: Mostly wooded areas.
Evolution and Taxonomy
The earliest known fossil of a woodpecker was found in Germany and is approximately 25 million years old. Through genetic and morphological studies, it is thought that woodpeckers evolved in tropical Eurasia around 46 million years ago. Woodpeckers fall under the order Piciformes, which includes barbets, puffbirds, honeyguides, toucans, and jacamars.
At first glance, it might not seem like these birds are very similar to woodpeckers at all. But they do share some common traits. Apart from the 3 species of three-toed woodpeckers, Piciformes have zygodactyl feet. This means that they have two toes pointing forwards and two toes pointing backward. This helps these birds to grasp branches and hop or run up and around trees.
If you have ever watched a toucan for any length of time, you might have noticed that Piciformes all have long, sticky, or spiky tongues that are used for various purposes. Apart from honeyguides, Piciformes are also quite clumsy fliers. When you watch a woodpecker or toucan in flight, it appears almost as though their heavy beaks are putting them off kilter. The flight pattern is full of dips and flaps, followed by an ungraceful hopping landing.
How to Spot a Woodpecker
Woodpeckers range in size from the tiny bar-breasted piculet (Picumnus aurifrons) at 7.5cms to the critically endangered imperial woodpecker (Campephilus imperialis) at 60cms. They also have a wide range of plumage colors and patterns. What you would probably picture as a “classic” woodpecker is a combination of red, white, black, and yellow. There are also a good number of woodpecker species with “pied” plumage. This refers to a spotted and/or striped pattern- usually in black and white. The third most common plumage type occurs mostly in piculets which are often olive green and brown.
Another common visual feature of woodpeckers is a crest or tuft on the crown of the head. The most impressive of these is the lineated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) and the blonde-crested woodpecker (Celeus flavescens)- both found in the Americas.
If you are looking for woodpeckers in the wild, the best way to find them is to use your ears. The classic tap tap tap of beak against wood is quite unmistakable. When woodpeckers are calling or drumming, they often choose a lofty and exposed place, so that’s good news for birders. The most common time to hear this drumming behavior is at dawn and dusk.
The Incredible Woodpecker Tongue
If there’s one thing that you have heard about woodpeckers, it is probably about their incredibly long tongue. They can extend their tongues up to 15 cm (5.9 in) into holes and crevices. Depending on the species, this can be up to a third of their entire body length!
They can extend their tongues so far because of something called the hyoid apparatus. This is a length of flexible cartilage and bone that attaches to the tongue and wraps around the back of the skull. This structure helps to support a series of long muscles, making the tongue rigid and extremely pokey-outy. Similar apparatus can be found in hummingbirds and anteaters. I always picture it as though it is a roll of measuring tape unraveling from the container.
Most woodpeckers also have pointy barbed tongues. The barbed tip is very sharp for stabbing their insect prey, or in the case of sapsuckers, it is hairy and sticky for licking up sap. The tip of a woodpecker tongue also comes equipped with a tiny rotating joint like a gimbal. This allows the woodpecker to move its tongue tip in any direction as it explores for juicy treats.
The Music of Woodpeckers
In addition to using their strong beaks to find food, woodpeckers are rocking drummers. In comparison to the slow, uneven tapping sounds of a woodpecker foraging- drumming behavior is much wilder. They tap their beaks rapidly on a hard surface, creating a distinctive drumroll sound.
In a 2021 study, researchers confirmed that drumming is mainly used as a territorial display. This can be either a short-range communication- to scare away an invading woodpecker. Or it can be a long-range signal- used at dawn and dusk to assert general territory.
Researchers in the study found that the faster the drumming and the longer the drumroll, the more aggressive the bird. For example, when they played sounds of very fast and long drumming, the woodpeckers would try to “win” the drum off by increasing the speed and length of their signal. They would also use aggressive vocal calls and flight displays.
The vocal calls of woodpeckers vary with species and behavioral queues. However, most woodpeckers have some variety of high-pitched rattle, chatter, or trill.
Since woodpeckers are a global bird, there are a wide range of habitats where you can seek them. You might think that trees are a prerequisite- but that’s not 100% true. In the tropics, and most temperate zones, woodpeckers indeed prefer jungles and old-growth forests. However, there are some species in Africa and other arid environments that have adapted to forage in grasslands, savannahs, rocky outcrops, and even desserts. Generally speaking, however, you should look for dead or dying trees, particularly softwood conifers or oak trees. These trees are perfect for both foraging and nesting. Here is a basic list of trees to look out for when birding for woodpeckers:
- Monkey Puzzle
Could Woodpeckers Play Football?
One of the most fascinating things about woodpeckers is their ability to continually bang their heads against a tree without incurring massive brain damage. For a very long time, it was thought that woodpeckers had a spongy layer between the base of their beaks and skull. Which was believed to absorb some of the impacts from the constant head bashing. The belief has even inspired various designs of football helmets.
In a new 2022 study in Current Biology, the exact opposite has been demonstrated. In the study, researchers painstakingly studied controlled video footage of woodpecker drumming. They found that actually, woodpeckers use their beaks like a hammer. They are completely rigid, and both the skull and beak stop at the same time. This suggests that no shock absorption is taking place.
So why don’t woodpeckers have brain damage?
Like a lot of amazing ideas- the answer might be simple. They aren’t hitting their heads hard enough. Using computer modeling, the study looked at how hard the woodpeckers were hitting their heads vs the size of their brains and skull. It turns out that smaller animals can handle a much bigger hit to the noggin than humans can. Thus, no shock absorption is necessary.
What Do Woodpeckers Eat?
Insects form the vast majority of the woodpecker diet. Specifically, they enjoy carpenter ants, wood ants, weevils, termites, longhorn beetles, jewel beetles, and bark beetles. Woodpeckers will eat beetle larvae or adult beetles, but they seem to prefer the juicy larvae. In addition to foraging the bark of trees, some species of woodpecker will catch flying insects. Two examples are the red-naped sapsucker and Lewis’ woodpecker. The ground woodpecker and wryneck woodpeckers forage mainly on the ground, with a healthy diet of ants, worms, and other grubs.
Also within the woodpecker family are the sapsuckers. Can you guess what they eat? You’re correct. These species will bore holes into trees and lick the sap using specially adapted tongues. The acorn woodpecker, greater and lesser spotted woodpeckers, as well as the downy, hairy, and red-bellied woodpeckers also are well known for eating sap.
But it’s not all about bugs and sap. Woodpeckers are very adaptable creatures and will supplement their diet with just about anything on offer. On my bird feeder at home, we are frequently visited by the golden-naped woodpecker which seems to have a particular love of bananas and figs. The red-crowned woodpecker will also have a munch on our fruit platter, but not as frequently. Woodpeckers around the world have also been known to eat fruit, nuts, seeds, bird eggs, lizards, and nectar.
In the process of writing this article, my husband asked me- how in the world can woodpeckers eat nectar? They can’t hover, can they? Good question. Woodpeckers feed on nectar from sturdy flowers and tree flowers where they can perch. Two examples are heliconias and cactus flowers (see the video below).
Breeding and Nesting of Woodpeckers
All woodpeckers nest in cavities. True woodpeckers make their own nesting holes which are subsequently used by other birds such as toucans, trogons, piculets, and wrynecks. For birders, a great way to spot a woodpecker nest is to look for cavities in trees which are accompanied by wood chips strewn about the ground. True woodpeckers do not use the pecked-out material for their nests, so it will usually be lying about at the base of the tree.
Woodpecker moms produce between two and five eggs, which are cared for by both the male and the female. The childhood of woodpeckers is relatively short. There is a two-week incubation period, followed by about a month of coddling from the parents. Shortly after that, the juveniles are left on their own.
Woodpecker Types In Detail
There are four recognized sub-families of woodpeckers: True Woodpeckers, Piculets, Wrynecks, and Sapsuckers.
True Woodpeckers (Picinae)
The largest group by far is the true woodpeckers. The most commonly spotted genera of this group are dryobates and melanerpes. In general, these true woodpeckers have classic plumage colors: reds, whites, yellows, blacks, and a black and white striped situation on the upper parts. They also include the inspiration for Woody the Woodpecker- the pileated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus). Which has a very obvious bright red crest- as do many true woodpeckers. The most interesting outliers of the true woodpeckers are the ground woodpecker (Geocolaptes olivaceus), the flamebacks, the flickers, the acorn woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus), the gila woodpecker (Melanerpes uropygialis), and the bamboo woodpeckers.
Both the ground woodpecker and the flickers (genus colaptes) are ground-dwelling woodpeckers. They have adapted to forage on the ground by searching rocks and fallen trees for ants, worms and grubs. Both ground woodpeckers and flickers use their beaks to “flick” dead leaves away in search of food. Flickers have more classic woodpecker plumage, while ground woodpeckers are brown-grey with a rufous rump.
Flamebacks- as the name suggests- have orange flame-colored backs. They live in South East Asia, and they are an incredibly quiet species. Instead of tapping away at wood to find their dinner, they sit very still and snap their beaks at passing insects.
The acorn woodpecker, gila woodpecker, and bamboo woodpeckers (genus gecinulus) have specific habitats and diets. The gila woodpecker is known in the Arizona desert as the cactus woodpecker. It makes its nests in saguaro cactus and often feeds from the nectar of the cactus flowers. Acorn woodpeckers could also be referred to as squirrel woodpeckers. They collect acorns and store them in the cavities of oak trees. Bamboo woodpeckers are found in tropical environments and build their nests in giant bamboo patches.
Lastly, there are the Picoides or three-toed woodpeckers which are the only piciformes that have (you guessed it) three toes instead of four.
Piculets (Picumnus & Sasia)
There are 27 species of piculets, located in the Americas and South East Asia. They are the smallest of the woodpecker species, with a maximum length of 10 cm. Piculets have a much smaller beak than other woodpeckers, and as such, they do not create their own cavities for nests. Instead, they use the abandoned cavities of other species much the same as toucans or parrots do.
Piculets also lack the stiff tails of most other woodpecker species. This means that they are not as well balanced when running vertically up trees. You might see a piculet perching and hopping instead.
Piculets are also quite plain compared to other woodpecker plumage. They tend to have olive green to brown feathers with fine speckles or spots all over the head. A few species, such as the white-bellied piculet (Picumnus spilogaster) have red patches above the cere. They also lack the crest or tuft that is characteristic of many true woodpeckers.
Wrynecks of the genus jynx are a 2 species group of woodpeckers found in Africa and Europe. Both species have a grey and brown mottled plumage, with crests that can puff up under stress.
The main draw of wrynecks is their ability to turn their heads 180 degrees. These birds are often described as “snake-birds” because they use their head-twisting ability teamed with a bizarre hissing sound as a territorial display. That’s right. Wrynecks are not drummers!
Similar to piculets, wrynecks also lack stiffened tails and sturdy beaks. Therefore, they also use the cavities of other woodpeckers for nesting and prefer perching to vertical climbing.
Sapsuckers represent 4 species of new world woodpeckers. They are found in North and Central America. As the name suggests their primary food source is the sap of trees. Although there isn’t any sucking involved. What they do is drill holes into the sides of trees, wait for the sap to drip out, and then lick it up.
Sapsuckers have specially adapted tongues that are different from your average woodpecker. Most woodpecker tongues have sharp barbs on the tips for spearing insects. Sapsuckers on the other hand have more fine, feathery, tongues with sticky mucus to lick up all of that sappy goodness.
After the sap has dried out to the point of being difficult to lick, sapsuckers will depart and return later to scoop up ants and other insects that have been attracted by the sap.
As with most new-word woodpeckers, sapsuckers have a classic red, black and pied plumage.
Alphabetical Woodpeckers Species and Genus List
|Bay and Maroon Woodpeckers (Genus Blythipicus)||Bay Woodpecker Blythipicus pyrrhotis
Maroon Woodpecker Blythipicus rubiginosus
|Large American Woodpeckers (Genus Campephilus)||Guayaquil Woodpecker Campephilus gayaquilensis
Pale-billed Woodpecker Campephilus guatemalensis
Crimson-bellied Woodpecker Campephilus haematogaster
Imperial Woodpecker Campephilus imperialis
Cream-backed Woodpecker Campephilus leucopogon
Magellanic Woodpecker Campephilus magellanicus
Crimson-crested Woodpecker Campephilus melanoleucos
Powerful Woodpecker Campephilus pollens
Ivory-billed Woodpecker Campephilus principalis
Robust Woodpecker Campephilus robustus
Red-necked Woodpecker Campephilus rubricollis
|African Green Woodpeckers (Genus Campethera)||Golden-tailed Woodpecker Campethera abingoni
Bennett’s Woodpecker Campethera bennettii
Green-backed Woodpecker Campethera cailliautii
Brown-eared Woodpecker Campethera caroli
Little Green Woodpecker Campethera maculosa
Mombasa Woodpecker Campethera mombassica
Buff-spotted Woodpecker Campethera nivosa
Knysna Woodpecker Campethera notata
Nubian Woodpecker Campethera nubica
Fine-spotted Woodpecker Campethera punctuligera
Reichenow’s Woodpecker Campethera scriptoricauda
Tullberg’s Woodpecker Campethera tullbergi
|Neotropical Crested Woodpeckers (Genus Celeus)||Chestnut-colored Woodpecker Celeus castaneus
Chestnut Woodpecker Celeus elegans
Blond-crested Woodpecker Celeus flavescens
Cream-colored Woodpecker Celeus flavus
Helmeted Woodpecker Celeus galeatus
Scale-breasted Woodpecker Celeus grammicus
Cinnamon Woodpecker Celeus loricatus
Pale-crested Woodpecker Celeus lugubris
Kaempfer’s Woodpecker Celeus obrieni
Ochre-backed Woodpecker Celeus ochraceus
Rufous-headed Woodpecker Celeus spectabilis
Ringed Woodpecker Celeus torquatus
Waved Woodpecker Celeus undatus
|African Pied Woodpeckers (Genus Chloropicus)||Abyssinian Woodpecker Chloropicus abyssinicus
Little Gray Woodpecker Chloropicus elachus
Elliot’s Woodpecker Chloropicus elliotii
Cardinal Woodpecker Chloropicus fuscescens
Gabon Woodpecker Chloropicus gabonensis
African Grey Woodpecker Chloropicus goertae
Olive Woodpecker Chloropicus griseocephalus
Melancholy Woodpecker Chloropicus lugubris
Bearded Woodpecker Chloropicus namaquus
Brown-backed Woodpecker Chloropicus obsoletus
Speckle-breasted Woodpecker Chloropicus poecilolaemus
Fire-bellied Woodpecker Chloropicus pyrrhogaster
Mountain Gray Woodpecker Chloropicus spodocephalus
Stierling’s Woodpecker Chloropicus stierlingi
Golden-crowned Woodpecker Chloropicus xantholophus
|Chrysocolaptes Flamebacks (Genus Chrysocolaptes)||Red-headed Flameback Chrysocolaptes erythrocephalus
White-naped Woodpecker Chrysocolaptes festivus
Greater Flameback Chrysocolaptes guttacristatus
Luzon Flameback Chrysocolaptes haematribon
Buff-spotted Flameback Chrysocolaptes lucidus
Crimson-backed Flameback Chrysocolaptes stricklandi
Javan Flameback Chrysocolaptes strictus
Yellow-faced Flameback Chrysocolaptes xanthocephalus
|Large Yellownapes (Genus Chrysophlegma)||Greater Yellownape Chrysophlegma flavinucha
Checker-throated Woodpecker Chrysophlegma mentale
Banded Woodpecker Chrysophlegma miniaceum
|Flickers and Allies (Genus Colaptes)||Black-necked Woodpecker Colaptes atricollis
Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus
Gray-crowned Woodpecker Colaptes auricularis
Campo Flicker Colaptes campestris
Gilded Flicker Colaptes chrysoides
Fernandina’s Flicker Colaptes fernandinae
Green-barred Woodpecker Colaptes melanochloros
Chilean Flicker Colaptes pitius
Spot-breasted Woodpecker Colaptes punctigula
Crimson-mantled Woodpecker Colaptes rivolii
Golden-olive Woodpecker Colaptes rubiginosus
Andean Flicker Colaptes rupicola
|Eurasian Pied Woodpeckers (Genus Dendrocopos)||Freckle-breasted Woodpecker Dendrocopos analis
Sind Woodpecker Dendrocopos assimilis
Stripe-breasted Woodpecker Dendrocopos atratus
Darjeeling Woodpecker Dendrocopos darjellensis
Himalayan Woodpecker Dendrocopos himalayensis
Rufous-bellied Woodpecker Dendrocopos hyperythrus
White-winged Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucopterus
White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos
Fulvous-breasted Woodpecker Dendrocopos macei
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major
Okinawa Woodpecker Dendrocopos noguchii
Syrian Woodpecker Dendrocopos syriacus
|Middle Spotted Woodpecker and Allies (Genus Dendrocoptes)||Brown-fronted Woodpecker Dendrocoptes auriceps
Arabian Woodpecker Dendrocoptes dorae
Middle Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocoptes medius
|Dinopium Flamebacks (Genus Dinopium)||Black-rumped Flameback Dinopium benghalense
Spot-throated Flameback Dinopium everetti
Common Flameback Dinopium javanense
Red-backed Flameback Dinopium psarodes
Olive-backed Woodpecker Dinopium rafflesii
Himalayan Flameback Dinopium shorii
|Dryobates Woodpeckers (Genus Dryobates)||Red-stained Woodpecker Dryobates affinis
White-headed Woodpecker Dryobates albolarvatus
Arizona Woodpecker Dryobates arizonae
Red-cockaded Woodpecker Dryobates borealis
Scarlet-backed Woodpecker Dryobates callonotus
Golden-collared Woodpecker Dryobates cassini
Crimson-breasted Woodpecker Dryobates cathpharius
Choco Woodpecker Dryobates chocoensis
Yellow-vented Woodpecker Dryobates dignus
Dot-fronted Woodpecker Dryobates frontalis
Smoky-brown Woodpecker Dryobates fumigatus
Red-rumped Woodpecker Dryobates kirkii
Striped Woodpecker Dryobates lignarius
Yellow-eared Woodpecker Dryobates maculifrons
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dryobates minor
Checkered Woodpecker Dryobates mixtus
Bar-bellied Woodpecker Dryobates nigriceps
Nuttall’s Woodpecker Dryobates nuttallii
Little Woodpecker Dryobates passerinus
Downy Woodpecker Dryobates pubescens
Blood-colored Woodpecker Dryobates sanguineus
Ladder-backed Woodpecker Dryobates scalaris
White-spotted Woodpecker Dryobates spilogaster
Strickland’s Woodpecker Dryobates stricklandi
Hairy Woodpecker Dryobates villosus
|Genus Dryocopus||Andaman Woodpecker Dryocopus hodgei
White-bellied Woodpecker Dryocopus javensis
Lineated Woodpecker Dryocopus lineatus
Black Woodpecker Dryocopus martius
Pileated Woodpecker Dryocopus pileatus
Black-bodied Woodpecker Dryocopus schulzii
|Pale-headed and Bamboo Woodpeckers (Genus Gecinulus)||Pale-headed Woodpecker Gecinulus grantia
Bamboo Woodpecker Gecinulus viridis
|Genus Geocolaptes||Ground Woodpecker Geocolaptes olivaceus|
|Large-crested Woodpeckers (Genus Hemicircus)||Heart-spotted Woodpecker Hemicircus canente
Gray-and-buff Woodpecker Hemicircus concretus
|Wrynecks Genus (Jynx)||Rufous-necked Wryneck Jynx ruficollis
Eurasian Wryneck Jynx torquilla
|Genus Leiopicus||Yellow-crowned Woodpecker Leiopicus mahrattensis|
|Tufted Woodpeckers (Genus Meiglyptes)||Black-and-buff Woodpecker Meiglyptes jugularis
Buff-rumped Woodpecker Meiglyptes tristis
Buff-necked Woodpecker Meiglyptes tukki
|Melanerpes Woodpeckers (Genus Melanerpes)||Golden-fronted Woodpecker Melanerpes aurifrons
White-fronted Woodpecker Melanerpes cactorum
White Woodpecker Melanerpes candidus
Red-bellied Woodpecker Melanerpes carolinus
Golden-naped Woodpecker Melanerpes chrysauchen
Golden-cheeked Woodpecker Melanerpes chrysogenys
Yellow-tufted Woodpecker Melanerpes cruentatus
Red-headed Woodpecker Melanerpes erythrocephalus
Yellow-fronted Woodpecker Melanerpes flavifrons
Acorn Woodpecker Melanerpes formicivorus
Guadeloupe Woodpecker Melanerpes herminieri
Hoffmann’s Woodpecker Melanerpes hoffmannii
Gray-breasted Woodpecker Melanerpes hypopolius
Lewis’s Woodpecker Melanerpes lewis
Puerto Rican Woodpecker Melanerpes portoricensis
Black-cheeked Woodpecker Melanerpes pucherani
Beautiful Woodpecker Melanerpes pulcher
Yucatán Woodpecker Melanerpes pygmaeus
Jamaican Woodpecker Melanerpes radiolatus
Red-crowned Woodpecker Melanerpes rubricapillus
Hispaniolan Woodpecker Melanerpes striatus
West Indian Woodpecker Melanerpes superciliaris
Gila Woodpecker Melanerpes uropygialis
|Genus Micropternus||Rufous Woodpecker Micropternus brachyurus|
|Large Asian Woodpeckers (Genus Mulleripicus)||Southern Sooty-Woodpecker Mulleripicus fuliginosus
Ashy Woodpecker Mulleripicus fulvus
Northern Sooty-Woodpecker Mulleripicus funebris
Great Slaty Woodpecker Mulleripicus pulverulentus
|Genus Nesoctites||Antillean Piculet Nesoctites micromegas|
|Three-toed Woodpeckers (Genus Picoides)||Black-backed Woodpecker Picoides arcticus
American Three-toed Woodpecker Picoides dorsalis
Eurasian Three-toed Woodpecker Picoides tridactylus
|Neotropical Green Woodpeckers (Genus Piculus)||White-browed Woodpecker Piculus aurulentus
Stripe-cheeked Woodpecker Piculus callopterus
Golden-green Woodpecker Piculus chrysochloros
Yellow-throated Woodpecker Piculus flavigula
White-throated Woodpecker Piculus leucolaemus
Lita Woodpecker Piculus litae
Rufous-winged Woodpecker Piculus simplex
|Typical Piculets (Genus Picumnus)||White-wedged Piculet Picumnus albosquamatus
Bar-breasted Piculet Picumnus aurifrons
Plain-breasted Piculet Picumnus castelnau
Chestnut Piculet Picumnus cinnamomeus
White-barred Piculet Picumnus cirratus
Ocellated Piculet Picumnus dorbignyanus
Golden-spangled Piculet Picumnus exilis
Rusty-necked Piculet Picumnus fuscus
Grayish Piculet Picumnus granadensis
Speckled Piculet Picumnus innominatus
Lafresnaye’s Piculet Picumnus lafresnayi
Ochraceous Piculet Picumnus limae
Arrowhead Piculet Picumnus minutissimus
Mottled Piculet Picumnus nebulosus
Olivaceous Piculet Picumnus olivaceus
Orinoco Piculet Picumnus pumilus
Spotted Piculet Picumnus pygmaeus
Rufous-breasted Piculet Picumnus rufiventris
Ecuadorian Piculet Picumnus sclateri
White-bellied Piculet Picumnus spilogaster
Scaled Piculet Picumnus squamulatus
Speckle-chested Piculet Picumnus steindachneri
Fine-barred Piculet Picumnus subtilis
Ochre-collared Piculet Picumnus temminckii
Várzea Piculet Picumnus varzeae
|Green Woodpeckers and Allies (Genus Picus)||Japanese Green Woodpecker Picus awokera
Grey-headed Woodpecker Picus canus
Lesser Yellownape Picus chlorolophus
Black-headed Woodpecker Picus erythropygius
Crimson-winged Woodpecker Picus puniceus
Red-collared Woodpecker Picus rabieri
Iberian Green Woodpecker Picus sharpei
Scaly-bellied Woodpecker Picus squamatus
Levaillant’s Woodpecker Picus vaillantii
Streak-breasted Woodpecker Picus viridanus
Green Woodpecker Picus viridis
Laced Woodpecker Picus vittatus
Streak-throated Woodpecker Picus xanthopygaeus
|Genus Reinwardtipicus||Orange-backed Woodpecker Reinwardtipicus validus|
|Asian Piculets (Genus Sasia)||Rufous Piculet Sasia abnormis
White-browed Piculet Sasia ochracea
|Sapsuckers (Genus Sphyrapicus)||Red-naped Sapsucker Sphyrapicus nuchalis
Red-breasted Sapsucker Sphyrapicus ruber
Williamson’s Sapsucker Sphyrapicus thyroideus
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Sphyrapicus varius
|Genus Verreauxia||African Piculet Verreauxia africana|
|Genus Xiphidiopicus||Cuban Green Woodpecker Xiphidiopicus percussus|
|Pygmy Woodpeckers (Genus Yungipicus)||Gray-capped Woodpecker Yungipicus canicapillus
Pygmy Woodpecker Yungipicus kizuki
Philippine Woodpecker Yungipicus maculatus
Sunda Woodpecker Yungipicus moluccensis
Brown-capped Woodpecker Yungipicus nanus
Sulu Woodpecker Yungipicus ramsayi
Sulawesi Woodpecker Yungipicus temminckii
Answer: There are several proven methods of attracting woodpeckers to your garden. The most obvious one is to have a lot of wood for them to forage. You don’t necessarily have to have a grove of cedar trees. Woodpeckers love to forage from dead logs- so placing a few strategically around will help. You can also make use of any local fruits and nuts in your area- we use bananas and figs. Finally, woodpeckers are also big fans of hummingbird feeders and suet feeders. To attract them to these types of feeders, you will need to provide perching platforms around the feeders as woodpeckers cannot hover!
Answer: Particularly in North America, some species of woodpeckers are regarded as pests. Their amazing ability to carve out holes in wood has caused many problems for homeowners. Let’s make one thing very clear right off the bat- woodpeckers are a protected species, and it is illegal to kill them. Having said that, if you are having an issue with woodpeckers, there are a few things you can do. You can place bird feeders or plant fruit trees at the far end of your property to encourage them to hang out there instead of inside your walls. You can use sound as a deterrent when you see them around- Metallica is a good one, apparently. Or you can install a woodpecker house and encourage the birds to nest there instead of destroying your other structures.
Answer: There are 17 species of woodpecker that are currently listed as endangered, critically endangered, or vulnerable. Although woodpeckers are very adaptable creatures, they still face threats from habitat destruction. The major issues facing woodpeckers are logging, agriculture, climate change, and illegal trapping or killing. The best things that you can do to support these wondrous birds is to support reforestation and permaculture projects, and of course, refrain from shooting them! Not that any of our Birding Insider readers would dream of doing that, of course!
- Southeastern Naturalist
- Northwestern Naturalist
- Journal of Wildlife Management
- Woodpeckers of the World
- Toucans, Barbets, and Honeyguides
- Acta Biomater
- 10,000 Birds
- Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution
- Biodiversity Research
- IUCN Red List
The Birds of Costa Rica
An Illustrated Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica