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10 Species of North Carolina Woodpeckers with Pictures

About 22 of the more than 300 species of woodpeckers recognized worldwide can be found in the United States. I’ve discovered that North Carolina is home to ten of the 22 species of woodpeckers. Of these ten species, some live in North Carolina year-round, while others only visit sometimes.

You may observe a variety of woodpeckers in North Carolina, no matter where you reside. The majority of individuals are taken aback by the abundance of species in their immediate surroundings.

In this article we will talk about 10 Species of North Carolina Woodpeckers with pictures and how to identify them.

Different types of Woodpeckers in North Carolina

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)

North Carolina Woodpeckers

Given its year-round availability, the Northern Flicker is the most approachable woodpecker for novice birdwatchers in North Carolina. North Carolina is home to a sizable population of Northern Flickers, who move to warmer climates in the winter. Alaska and Canada are the birds’ migration routes. These woodpeckers inhabit arboreal environments, which include parks, cemeteries, and residential areas.

The vast size of northern flickers is what sets them apart; their physical characteristics vary according on the gender and age; on average, they are between 30 and 35 cm long, 4 and 7 ounces heavy, and have a wingspan of 54.1 cm. Their back and breast are speckled with black, and their overall color is a grayish brown. When they are in flight, their brilliant white feathers surrounding their rump are highly visible. In the eastern United States, which includes North Carolina, they have yellow or red tails.

During the spring mating season, the sound of Northern Flickers is easily identifiable. Unlike other woodpeckers that hunt in trees, Northern flickers feed on insects like caterpillars, ants, beetles, and termites by digging holes in the ground.

Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius)

North Carolina Woodpeckers

The Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius), despite its small size, is the most extensively dispersed woodpecker in North Carolina. It breeds from coast to coast in Canada and spends the winters in North Carolina.

Across the off-breeding season, these sapsuckers can be found across North Carolina, and they prefer towering trees in rural settings over suet feeders in homes. Their shoulders bear a stripe that helps identify them as medium-sized, black-and-white creatures. Both sexes range in size from 1.5 to 2 ounces, 20 cm long, and have an average wingspan of 37 cm. Males have red foreheads and throats, while females have less vibrant yellow and white throats. As the name suggests, they have pale yellow underbellies.

Bellied in Yellow During mating season, sapsuckers make a distinctive nasal mewing sound and a territorial, screaming, repeated call. Wild berries, fruits, flying insects, sap, and sapwood make up their food.

Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)

North Carolina Woodpeckers

Red-Bellied Woodpeckers (Melanerpes carolinus) are medium-sized woodpeckers that are easily identified in North Carolina woodlands by their bright red crowns and black and white striped backs.

The preference of these year-round residents of North Carolina is to nest and drum in woodland areas or on oak and hickory trees; they often return to the same tree each year. Because of their similar red heads, red-bellied and red-headed woodpeckers are sometimes mistaken. Red-bellied woodpeckers are smaller and have creamy white bellies. Both sexes have black and white striped feathers that reach weights of 2 to 3.2 ounces, lengths of 22 to 27 cm, and average wingspans of 42 cm. The nape and crown of males are red, whereas the nape of females is red.

Male red-bellied woodpeckers tap trees to entice females; the sound of their tapping can be heard from early winter until late spring. Both sexes roll their “churr” or “kwirr” calls. Red-bellied woodpeckers in North Carolina have a different diet than other woodpeckers; they consume more fruits, like wild berries, than insects.

Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)

North Carolina Woodpeckers

The gorgeous Pileated Woodpeckers, a protected species that requires attention when taking images or videos, entice visitors to North Carolina.

Pileated woodpeckers inhabit dead trees, old woodlands, and forests with fallen logs in North Carolina. They live there all year round. They are also found in many other places, including backyards in suburban and rural areas, parks, and golf courses.

These woodpeckers are adamant about not moving, choosing to live their entire lives in a certain town or state, unless they feel that the danger to their nest and eggs is too great. The crimson crest on the black and white striped back of Pileated Woodpeckers stands out against their otherwise crow-like proportions. There could be a crimson streak down the side of men’s faces.

With an average wingspan of 70 cm, adults can grow to a maximum length of 40 to 50 cm and weigh 8 to 13 ounces, making them one of the largest woodpeckers in North Carolina. Observers may be reminded of the Woody Woodpecker cartoon figure by their amazing appearance, which was apparently based on this kind of bird.

With up to 30 taps in a second, Pileated Woodpeckers can produce amazing drumming sounds, especially considering their size. Both sexes drum year-round in an attempt to attract possible mates or stake out territory.

The Pileated Woodpecker’s favorite food source is carpenter ants, which it forages for on the ground and in dead trees. They attach their discoveries to branches by occasionally consuming fruit and nuts.

Hairy Woodpecker

North Carolina Woodpeckers

The Hairy Woodpecker gets its name from the long, thread-like white feathers on its all-black back. In North Carolina, these medium-sized birds are less common than Northern flickers, although they can still be spotted in suburban forested areas, parks, backyards with bird feeders, and cemeteries.

Since they usually nest in dead trees, Hairy Woodpeckers don’t migrate; instead, they stay in one location and become more apparent in the winter. Some of their unique features are their black and white plumage, pastel bellies, and long beaks. They weigh between one and four ounces, with an average length of 18 to 26 centimeters and a wingspan of 35 cm.

The male Hairy Woodpecker may be easily distinguished from the female thanks to a red patch on his nape. Males drum swiftly on trees and cry out in a high-frequency, piercing manner.

The main food source for Hairy Woodpeckers is beetle and ant larvae, along with caterpillars, spiders, and bees.

Red-Headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus)

North Carolina Woodpeckers

The Red-Headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) is a woodpecker that is found in North Carolina during the summer and winter, although it is not as numerous as other woodpeckers. Seldom seen, it is breathtakingly gorgeous, adding to the memorable nature of the meeting.

Although these woodpeckers are year-round residents of North Carolina, their population has declined due to habitat destruction. Backyards can attract birds for observation, especially in the winter, by adding citrus or suet to bird feeders. They inhabit woodlands, parks, orchards, and forests with fallen trees for nesting.

Young red-headed woodpeckers are dark brown to black in appearance, with pale red cheeks and white spots on their wings. When they reach adulthood, their wings turn full black and their underside white, with their heads, necks, and napes changing to a deep, velvety crimson. Adults can reach average size measurements of 21 to 25 cm in length, 35 cm in width, and 2 to 3.5 ounces in weight.

In addition to chirping and chuckling, Red-Headed Woodpeckers are most recognized for their “shrill tchur,” a high-pitched call with less rolling.

These woodpeckers forage for nuts and seeds, which they bury in tree bark or hollows to stockpile for the winter. Additionally, they have a habit only woodpeckers have: they fly up and gather insects.

Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens)

North Carolina Woodpeckers

The Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens), albeit the smallest in both North Carolina and the United States, is every bit as fascinating as its larger state counterparts.

North Carolina’s downy woodpeckers are year-round residents who favor migration over the state’s consistent weather. They nest in backyards, parks, forests, groves, and both rural and urban places; they reside in tree cavities. In North Carolina, you can attract them in the winter months by hanging a suet feeder in your yard.

The dotted wings, white chest, and black and white feathers of downy woodpeckers set them apart from their hairy counterparts, despite their lesser stature. Adult males’ heads are spotted with crimson.

Downy woodpeckers beat fast on trees and create high-pitched, whining noises when they mark territory or search for a mate. Their broad diet includes cereals, berries, peanuts, sunflower seeds, acorns, suet, and other insects in addition to hunting for ants, caterpillars, beetle larvae, and other insects.

Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Leuconotopicus borealis)

North Carolina Woodpeckers

Because of logging, the Red-cockaded Woodpecker is the only species of woodpecker that has been categorized as endangered since 1970. The majority of these woodpeckers live in areas with longleaf pines in North Carolina, and state-wide conservation initiatives are intended to protect their continued survival.

These woodpeckers are medium-sized, have black and white feathers, a black hat, a black nape, and white facial feathers. Only the males have red stripes on their cheeks. When frightened or unsettled, they make a unique, raspy “sklit” call, and they also have a regular call that sounds like a normal “churt.”

Ivory-billed Woodpecker (Campephilus principalis)

North Carolina Woodpeckers

One of the world’s most exquisite woodpeckers, the ivory-billed woodpecker sadly went extinct in 1944; the last known sighting was in Louisiana. Fans saw a resurgence of hope and enthusiasm following a sighting that was documented in eastern North Carolina in 2015.

Ongoing debates concerning the bird’s existence have been sparked by more sightings and initiatives to restore its habitat. Skeptics argue that these results could be confused with the very similar Pileated Woodpecker, which is distinguished by its thick white back.

Because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service extended the species status review to January 2023 as of July 2022, there is a chance that Ivory-billed Woodpeckers will survive.

Lewis’ Woodpecker (Melanerpes lewis)

North Carolina Woodpeckers

Lewis’ Woodpeckers (Melanerpes lewis), which have only been seen four times at Mount Sequoyah, are currently regarded as an accidental or unusual species in North Carolina and are listed on the yellow watch list because of their declining numbers. These woodpeckers are easily recognized by their black heads, red cheeks, black wings, grayish collars with a smattering of white feathers on the chest, and pinkish and red underbellies.

Adults are among the largest woodpeckers in North Carolina, weighing between 3.1 and 4.9 ounces and having a wingspan of 19.3 to 20.5 inches. They measure from 10.2 and 11.0 inches in length. Lewis’ Woodpeckers do well in pine, cottonwood, paper birch, and any other dead or decaying tree. It’s noteworthy to note that they rarely build their own nests, preferring to reside in others that other woodpeckers have created.

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