Woodpeckers are curious little birds that make homes in the dead trees. Florida, a southeastern state in the United States known for its tourist attraction sites such as the Kennedy Space Center, orange crops, amusement parks is the home to ten species of woodpeckers.
In this article, we will talk about the woodpeckers found in Florida and how and where to spot them. Be with us till the end for some fun facts about them as well.
Scientific name – Melanerpes erythrocephalus
Length – 7.5-9.1 inches
Weight – 2.0-3.2 oz
Wingspan – 16.5 inches
Lifespan – 9.9 years
The Red-headed Woodpeckers are medium to small-sized birds with black wings. They have white underparts. The adult Red-headed woodpeckers are tri-colored with a black tail and back, with their neck and nape covered in red. These birds display sexual dimorphism. The adolescent birds look just like their parents, except for their grey heads.
The calling sound of these birds is “tchur-tchur”. They are omnivores in nature, and most of their diet comes from plants. Although, in the absence of their primary diet, they can easily switch to rodents or the eggs laid by different species of birds.
These birds roost in the openings and holes of dead trees. They may perch or nest in utility poles or decayed part of trees that lay a few meters beneath the ground.
A 2-cent postage stamp of a perched red-headed woodpecker was available in the US till the year 2006.
Scientific name – Melanerpes carolinus
Length – 9.4 inches
Weight – 2.0-3.2 oz
Wingspan – 13.0-16.5 inches
Lifespan – about 12 years
Often confused with their close relative, Red-headed Woodpeckers, the Red-bellied Woodpeckers are medium-sized woodpeckers. The adult birds have grey face and underparts. Their tails, back, and wings have a black and white barred pattern.
Owing to their name, these birds have a reddish hue on their belly. There is a slight difference in the appearance of the adult male and female Red-bellied Woodpecker. While the males tend to have a red cap ranging from their bill to the nape, the females have red patches on their nape as well as above their bill.
The Red-bellied Woodpeckers are a loud lot and produce a diverse range of sounds. Their primary calling sounds include “churr-churr-churr” and “thrraa-thrraa-thrraa”. The young babies produce a begging sound of “pree-pree-pree” in a high-pitch. Like the Red-headed Woodpeckers, these birds are omnivores as well. Their primary diet includes nuts, seeds, insects, and fruits.
They prefer softer woods for perching, such as the woods of elm, willow, maple, etc. Secondarily, they can roost in the decaying trees and old stumps as well. These birds have a unique tendency to mark their territory by drilling holes in the areas around their nests.
Scientific name – Dryobates pubescens
Length – 5.5-6.7 inches
Weight – 0.7-1.0 oz
Wingspan – 9.8-11.8 inches
Lifespan – 12 years
The Downy Woodpeckers categorize themselves among the smallest members of the woodpecker family. Generally, these birds have black colored upperparts and wings. Their bills are shorter than their heads. However, they do have a white throat, back, and belly.
A distinctive feature of the Downy Woodpeckers is that they have a prominent white bar present both above and below their eyes. The adolescent birds display a red cap on the back of their head, whereas the adult male birds have a red patch.
These birds are virtually alike in plumage with the Hairy Woodpeckers. The only difference between the two is the presence of the black spots on the Hairy Woodpecker’s white feathers on the tail. A variety of calling sounds are produced by the Downy Woodpeckers. There is a short “pik” call, heard four times in a row. Another one is a “rattle-call” which roughly sounds like a bouncing ball.
These birds roost in a dead tree or its limb. They hide in the tree cavities in the winter season. Primarily, they eat insects, berries, and seeds. During winter, though, they feed on suet and shelled peanuts provided by the bird-feeders. If you want to attract these woodpeckers to your feeder, you know the trick.
Scientific name – Leuconotopicus villosus
Length – 7.1-10.2 inches
Weight – 1.4-3.4 oz
Wingspan – 13.0-16.1 inches
Lifespan – 4-11 years
Just like the Downy Woodpeckers, the Hairy Woodpeckers have a white bar both above and below their eyes. The adults have black underparts and wings.
Their wings have black and white markings. They have a white or sooty brown throat and belly. There may be one or two red patches at the back of their head. The adolescents have a red or orange-red crown.
The mated pairs of the Hairy Woodpeckers bore an opening in the tree, where they lay eggs. These birds are non-migratory and inhabit the same region throughout the year. They usually forage on trees by turning the bark inside-out in search of insects.
Their diet includes insects, nuts, fruits, berries, and sometimes tree sap as well. They are sometimes seen pecking at the wooden window frames and doors for the possibility of catching prey.
Scientific name – Dryobates borealis
Length – 7.9-9.1 inches
Weight – 1.5-1.8 oz
Wingspan – 14.2 inches
Lifespan – about 16 years
The Red-cockaded Woodpeckers are small to medium-sized woodpeckers. They are said to be “intermediate” in size between the Downy and the Hairy Woodpeckers. These birds have black and white horizontal stripes on their back.
Owing to their name, they have a small red streak on both sides of its black cap, called a cockade. However, only males possess cockades. A distinctive feature of these birds is their nape, which encompasses large, white cheek patches, with a black cap.
These birds are secretive in nature and generally avoid any encounter with the human population, except in their breeding seasons, when they can be most easily spotted.
The Red-cockaded Woodpeckers are non-migratory as well as monogamous birds that mate with the same partner throughout their lives. Their diet includes beetles, ants, cockroaches, caterpillars, spiders, fruits, berries, etc.
They prefer to inhabit large trees and enjoy foraging on them. However, you can also find them foraging on corn earworms and hardwoods occasionally. A major predator of these birds is the rat snake. The corn snakes may pose a threat to them as well.
Scientific name – Sphyrapicus varius
Length – 7.1-8.7 inches
Weight – 1.5-1.9 oz
Wingspan – 13.4-15.8 inches
Lifespan – about 11-13 years
The Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are medium-sized woodpeckers. They have a white streak just above the eyes, extended till the nape. The color of the forehead of the male birds is a bright red, while the females have a lighter shade of the same.
Their crown is red in color with a black outline. The throat and chin are colored white in female birds and red in the males, which is often used as a distinguishing factor between the two. They have black wing coverts with a white mantle. The underparts range from tinged yellow to white in color.
The calling sounds produced by the male birds are “neaaah”, “owee-owee”, “wee-wee-wee-wee”, and “kwee-urk”. During a family gathering, sounds like “week week” and “wurp wurp” are exchanged. A high-pitched “quarr” is heard during conflicts.
The primary diet of these birds includes arthropods, tree sap, fruits, and nuts. Cambium from trees and berries are also eaten.
Scientific name – Colaptes auratus
Length – 11.0-12.2 inches
Weight – 3.9-5.6 oz
Wingspan – 16.5-20.1 inches
Lifespan – 6 years
Also known as “common flicker”, the Northern-flicker Woodpeckers are medium-sized birds. The adult birds are brown in color and have black bars on their wings and back. Their upper breast is laced with a necklace-like black patch. The lower breast and belly are beige in color, adorned with black spots.
During the flight, the color of their tail transitions from dark to a white rump. The males have a red or black mustache stripe around their beak.
The calling sound of these birds is like a laugh of “ki,ki,ki,ki”. Their diet comprises insects, berries, moths, beetles, snails, seeds, ants, butterflies, grape, cherry, poison ivy, etc. In order to claim and defend their territory, they often drum loudly on objects. They are required to make a loud noise for the process, and to achieve that, sometimes, they even drum on metal objects.
Fun Fact – There are over 100 names for the Northern-flicker Woodpeckers. Some of the catchy ones are clape, yellowhammer, harry-wicket, heigh-ho, yarrup, gawker bird, etc.
Scientific name – Dryocopus pileatus
Length – 15.8-19.3 inches
Weight – 8.8-12.3 oz
Wingspan – 26.0-29.5 inches
Lifespan – about 13 years
The Pileated Woodpeckers are large birds that are mostly black in appearance. Owing to their name, these birds have a prominent red crest, which is why their scientific name contains “pileatus”, which roughly translates to “capped” in English.
They are the largest common woodpeckers of their species. Apart from a black body and a red crest, these birds have a white line running down the sides of their throat. The white color of their wings is only visible when they are in flight. The males have a red line extending from their bill to the throat, while the females have a black line.
The Pileated Woodpeckers mostly eat beetle larva and carpenter ants, along with fruits, nuts, berries, poison ivy berries, etc. They chip and cut-out a roughly rectangular shape of a wooden block, mostly in search of the carpenter ants.
Although they forage on the ground, they prefer large trees for feeding. The most striking feature of the Pileated Woodpeckers is their nests, in which they make multiple entrance holes in order to attract their female counterparts.
Scientific name – Campephilus principalis
Length – 18.9-20.1 inches
Weight – 15.9-20.1 oz
Wingspan – 29.9-31.5 inches
Lifespan – about 30 years
The Ivory-bellied Woodpeckers categorize themselves amongst the largest species of the woodpecker family. Their plumage is a shiny black-purple in color. White lines are present on the cheeks and extend till the back. These birds are sexually dimorphic in nature. The adults have a protruding crest, and the adolescents have a ragged crest.
A distinguishing feature of these birds is their laterally-flattened bill, which gives the impression of a wood chisel. They are non-migratory in nature yet, are referred to as “nomadic” sometimes.
The Ivory-bellied Woodpeckers have a calling sound of “kent” and “hant” which sounds similar to a toy trumpet playing repeatedly. A “kent kent kent” sound is also heard. Their primary diet is the beetle larvae, along with wild grapes, persimmons, hackberries, poison ivy, hickory nuts, acorns, etc.
These birds are thought to mate for life. They make a new nest for themselves, like most of the woodpeckers. Their nest or cavity is made in or below the broken-off stumps in the living trees as they find it easier to bore.
Golden- Fronted Woodpecker
Scientific name – Melanerpes aurifrons
Length – 8.5-10 inches
Weight – 2-3 oz.
Wingspan – 42-44 centimeters (16.5-17.3 inches)
Lifespan – 5-7 years
Closely related to the Red-bellied Woodpeckers, the Golden-bellied woodpeckers are small-sized birds. These birds have black and white barring on the back. Their breast and face are plain and buffy, while their nape is a striking mixture of orange and yellow hues. A red crown is visible on the adult males.
The Golden-fronted Woodpeckers make their nests in the telephone poles, fence posts, or in the trunk of both alive and dead trees, especially in the oak or mesquite trees.
The nests or cavities made by them are remarkably lower than that of the other woodpeckers. Both the partners work together during drilling the hole. A striking feature of these birds is that they use their nests for more than a year, which is unusual for other woodpeckers.
These birds are omnivores in nature and feed on a variety of insects. Apart from insects, they also eat nuts, berries, fruits, and seeds of various plants. Acorns are preferred by these birds, if available. They forage for insects on trees, on the ground, and in the cracks and open the mesquite pods for their seeds.
Species of woodpeckers in Florida (Final Thoughts)
If you’re a bird-watcher, then watching woodpeckers is what you need. With their annoying habit of pecking the wood, they will entertain you. You’ll be amazed to see how good they are at their craft and turning your dead tree into something beautiful. Look out for any wooden furniture left in your backyard or wooden doors in your homes, these birds may come to peck at them.