Home » 12 Types of Michigan Woodpeckers with Pictures

12 Types of Michigan Woodpeckers with Pictures

Michigan woodpeckers contribute to the state’s vibrant birdlife. Pileated Woodpeckers, with their distinctive crimson crests, thrive in various habitats, from dead trees to suburban backyards. Lewis’ Woodpeckers, though rare, capture attention with black heads, red cheeks, and declining numbers. The endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker faces challenges due to extensive logging. Birdwatchers in Michigan can also spot the Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, and Red-Bellied Woodpecker, each adding unique charm to the state’s woodlands.

Different types of Michigan Woodpeckers

Black-backed Woodpecker (Picoides arcticus)

Michigan Woodpeckers

The Black-backed Woodpecker (Picoides arcticus), a medium-sized species, is prevalent in North America, ranging from southern Canada to central Mexico. With a length of 9.1 inches (23 cm), a weight of 2.1-3.1 ounces (61-88 g), and a wingspan of 15.8-16.5 inches (40-42 cm), it is the only woodpecker found in both the eastern and western United States.

To attract them, create a habitat with large trees and dead branches for nesting. Known spots to observe them include Isle Royale National Park, Porcupine Mountains State Park, and Tahquamenon Falls State Park. The black-backed woodpecker feeds on various insects like beetles, ants, termites, and carpenter ants.

Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius)

Michigan Woodpeckers

The Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius), though small, is the most widely distributed woodpecker in Michigan. Breeding along Canada’s coast, it migrates back to Michigan for winter. In the off-season, these sapsuckers prefer woodland settings, displaying a distinctive shoulder stripe.

Both sexes, averaging 1.5 to 2 ounces and 20 cm in length with a 37 cm wingspan, exhibit pale yellow underbellies. Males boast red foreheads and throats, while females have less vibrant colors. Emitting a nasal mewing sound and territorial calls during mating season, they consume wild berries, fruits, insects, sap, and sapwood.

Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)

Michigan Woodpeckers

Red-Bellied Woodpeckers (Melanerpes carolinus), medium-sized and easily spotted in Michigan woodlands, are distinguished by their bright red crowns and black-and-white striped backs.

These year-round residents prefer drumming and nesting in woodlands, often returning to the same tree annually. Though sometimes confused with red-headed woodpeckers, red-bellied woodpeckers have creamy white bellies and weigh 2 to 3.2 ounces, measuring 22 to 27 cm with an average wingspan of 42 cm. Males feature red napes and crowns, while females have a red nape.

From early winter to late spring, male red-bellied woodpeckers create pounding sounds to attract females. Both sexes produce “churr” or “kwirr” calls. Unlike other woodpecker species, Michigan’s red-bellied woodpeckers consume more fruits, such as wild berries, than insects.

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)

Michigan Woodpeckers

The Northern Flicker, a year-round resident in Michigan, offers an excellent introduction to birdwatching for beginners. These woodpeckers, with a substantial population in the state during winter, migrate to warmer climates in Alaska and Canada.

Found in parks, cemeteries, and residential areas, their impressive size, averaging 30-35 cm in length, distinguishes them. With a speckled black back and breast, and a grayish-brown overall color, they display striking white feathers in flight. In Michigan, their tails exhibit vibrant yellow or red hues.

During spring, their distinctive mating calls resonate, and unlike other woodpeckers, they forage for insects on the ground, making them a unique and accessible birdwatching subject.

Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens)

Michigan Woodpeckers

The Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens), Michigan’s smallest woodpecker, remains as captivating as its larger counterparts. Unlike some migratory birds, downy woodpeckers reside year-round in Michigan’s consistent climate, nesting in various locations, including backyards, parks, and forests. Hanging a suet feeder in your yard during winter can attract them.

Distinguished by dotted wings, white chests, and black-and-white feathers, downy woodpeckers differ from their larger hairy counterparts. Adult males boast crimson-spotted heads. Their rapid tree drumming and high-pitched whining sounds signify territory marking and mate searching. With a versatile diet encompassing cereals, berries, peanuts, and insects, downy woodpeckers add a delightful presence to Michigan’s birdwatching landscape.

Hairy Woodpecker

Michigan Woodpeckers

The Hairy Woodpecker, named for its long, thread-like white feathers on an all-black back, is a medium-sized bird less common in Michigan than Northern flickers. However, they can be spotted in parks, cemeteries, backyard bird feeders, and suburban wooded areas. Preferring dead trees for nesting, they stay year-round, becoming more visible in winter. With black and white plumage, pastel bellies, and long beaks, they weigh one to four ounces, measuring 18 to 26 centimeters in length with a 35 cm wingspan.

Distinguished by a red nape patch, male Hairy Woodpeckers drum on trees and emit high-frequency calls. They primarily feed on beetle and ant larvae, caterpillars, spiders, and bees.

Red-Headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus)

Michigan Woodpeckers

The Red-Headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus), less common but still visible in Michigan during summer and winter, is known for its stunning beauty. Although year-round residents, their population has dwindled due to habitat loss. Adding citrus or suet to bird feeders can attract them to backyards, especially in winter. They inhabit woodlands, parks, orchards, and forests with fallen trees for nesting.

Young red-headed woodpeckers are dark brown with pale red cheeks, evolving into adults with deep crimson heads and black wings. Measuring 21 to 25 cm in length, 35 cm in width, and weighing 2 to 3.5 ounces, they produce distinctive calls, including a high-pitched “shrill tchur.” Foraging for nuts and seeds, they stockpile food in tree bark or hollows for winter and exhibit the unique woodpecker behavior of flying up to gather insects.

Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Leuconotopicus borealis)

Michigan Woodpeckers

The Red-cockaded Woodpecker, designated as endangered since 1970 due to extensive logging, remains the sole woodpecker species facing this classification. Predominantly residing in Michigan’s longleaf pine areas, comprehensive statewide conservation efforts aim to safeguard their survival.

Medium-sized with distinctive black and white plumage, including a black hat, nape, and white facial feathers, male red-cockaded woodpeckers feature red stripes on their cheeks. Emitting a unique raspy “sklit” call when alarmed and a regular “churt” call during usual circumstances, these woodpeckers are integral to conservation initiatives in Michigan.

Ivory-billed Woodpecker (Campephilus principalis)

Michigan Woodpeckers

Regrettably, the ivory-billed woodpecker, one of the world’s most exquisite species, became extinct in 1944, with the last known sighting recorded in Louisiana. In 2015, a reported sighting in eastern Michigan sparked renewed excitement and optimism among enthusiasts.

Ongoing debates about the bird’s existence persist, fueled by additional sightings and habitat restoration efforts. Skeptics contend that these observations might be confused with the similar-looking Pileated Woodpecker, characterized by its thick white back.

With the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service extending the species status review to January 2023 as of July 2022, there remains a glimmer of hope for the survival of the ivory-billed woodpecker.

Lewis’ Woodpecker (Melanerpes lewis)

Michigan Woodpeckers

Lewis’ Woodpeckers (Melanerpes lewis), a rarity in Michigan with only four sightings at Mount Sequoyah, currently hold the status of an accidental or rare species and are on the yellow watch list due to their declining numbers. Distinguished by black heads, red cheeks, black wings, grayish collars with a smattering of white feathers on the chest, and pinkish-red underbellies, these woodpeckers are easily identifiable.

Adult Lewis’ Woodpeckers rank among the largest in Michigan, weighing 3.1 to 4.9 ounces, with a wingspan of 19.3 to 20.5 inches and a length of 10.2 to 11.0 inches. Thriving in pine, cottonwood, paper birch, and decaying trees, they have a unique habit of residing in nests created by other woodpeckers, seldom building their own.

Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)

Michigan Woodpeckers

Protected and beautiful, the Pileated Woodpeckers draw attention in Michigan. Inhabiting various areas, including dead trees, old woodlands, suburban backyards, parks, and golf courses, these woodpeckers are year-round residents, rarely moving unless nesting threats arise.

Distinguished by crimson crests on black and white striped backs, adults reach lengths of 40 to 50 cm, weigh 8 to 13 ounces, and boast a wingspan of around 70 cm. Their appearance, reminiscent of the Woody Woodpecker cartoon, makes them one of Michigan’s largest woodpeckers.

Producing impressive drumming sounds with up to 30 taps per second, Pileated Woodpeckers drum year-round for mate attraction and territory marking. Thriving on carpenter ants, they forage on the ground and in dead trees, occasionally consuming fruit and nuts.

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