Out of the many species of woodpeckers in North America, Delaware is home to seven. In this article we’ll take a look at each of these Delaware native species and touch on where and when you might spot one. At the end of the article we share some tips on how to attract woodpeckers to your yard.
7 Woodpeckers in Delaware
The 7 species of woodpeckers in Delaware are the pileated woodpecker, red-headed woodpecker, red-bellied woodpecker, yellow-bellied sapsucker, downy woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, and the northern flicker.
1. Downy Woodpecker
Length: 5.5-6.7 in
Weight: 0.7-1.0 oz
Wingspan: 9.8-11.8 in
You can find these tiny woodpeckers everywhere throughout Delaware all year. They are very common throughout almost all of the U.S. and are the smallest species of woodpeckers in North America. The downy is the woodpecker species most likely to visit backyard bird feeders.
Downy woodpeckers love suet but also eat a variety of seeds like sunflower seeds, millet, and peanuts. They’re only about the size of a sparrow and can be identified by the white spots on their backs, and pure white chest and belly. Males have a red patch at the back of their head.
2. Hairy Woodpecker
Length: 7.1-10.2 in
Weight: 1.4-3.4 oz
Wingspan: 13.0-16.1 in
You may be wondering if you’re looking at another downy woodpecker in this picture. The answer is no, but they sure do look alike. Hairy woodpeckers often occur in the same areas as downy’s across the U.S. and cause plenty of confusion when you’re trying to identify which is which.
The hairy is significantly larger, and has a longer beak relative to its body size than the downy. We have an article here that can help you learn how to tell them apart.
These two woodpeckers are very similar in all ways from habitat to diet. They can be found throughout Delaware all year. The hairy woodpecker tends to be a little more shy of humans, and while they will visit backyard suet feeders, they aren’t as commonly seen as the downy.
3. Northern Flicker
Length: 11.0-12.2 in
Weight: 3.9-5.6 oz
Wingspan: 16.5-20.1 in
Northern flickers are found in some capacity in most of North America, and all of the United States. In Delaware you’ll find flickers year round, as they only tend to migrate further north.
Flickers are medium sized woodpeckers, and in my opinion they are among some of the most colorful birds in North America . Identify them by the black spots on their bellies, solid black bib, red patch on the back of their necks, and barred black and gray wings. Males have a black “mustache”. In Delaware you get the “yellow-shafted” variety, and they have bright yellow feathers on the underside of their wings and tail.
Flickers feed mainly on insects and unlike other woodpeckers, often like to find them on the ground rather than trees.
4. Pileated Woodpecker
Length: 15.8-19.3 in
Weight: 8.8-12.3 oz
Wingspan: 26.0-29.5 in
The pileated woodpecker is the largest of all woodpeckers in Delaware, as well as North America. They have a black body, black and white striped face and large red crest. Males have a red cheek stripe while females do not. Pileated woodpeckers can be found year-round throughout the Delaware.
If you want to spot a pileated woodpecker, look in mature forests. They love old, dead trees that have rotting wood. Pileated woodpeckers will sometimes come to backyard feeders, although they are much less common visitors than other species and often are too large for all but the biggest suet feeder.
5. Red-headed Woodpecker
Length: 7.5-9.1 in
Weight: 2.0-3.2 oz
Wingspan: 16.5 in
The red-headed woodpecker is easily identified by its completely red/crimson head, and black and white color-blocked body. They will sometimes come to suet feeders, but are less common backyard visitors than some other types of woodpeckers. Aside from suet they will also eat various nuts and fruits.
Red-headed are one of only four species of woodpeckers that actively store their food in caches for later use, their favorite being acorns and beech nuts. They can be found in Delaware mainly during the spring and summer. Some may stay in the winter but most will head further south. Their populations can also follow where the best crops of acorns and beech nuts are in a given year.
6. Red-bellied Woodpecker
Length: 9.4 in
Weight: 2.0-3.2 oz
Wingspan: 13.0-16.5 in
The red-bellied woodpecker lives throughout Delaware year-round, as well as much of the eastern United States. These medium-sized woodpeckers are fairly common at feeders and in backyards. Attract them with suet and larger sized nuts.
Though they are described as “red-bellied” you may first notice the bright red streak along the back of their heads. They have a plain white breast with an area of pinkish-red lower down in their “belly” area which is often not visible. Their heavily barred black and white wings are another good identifier.
7. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Length: 7.1-8.7 in
Weight: 1.5-1.9 oz
Wingspan: 13.4-15.8 in
The yellow-bellied sapsucker can be found throughout Delaware as well as the eastern half of the United States. They can be found in the state during the non-breeding, winter months, then migrate north to their breeding grounds in the spring.
At first glance they may resemble the downy woodpecker, but the they have a yellow-wash on their white feathers, and a red stripe across the top of their head. Males will also have a red throat.
They aren’t common at bird feeders since sap is their primary food source. They drill holes into maple, elm, aspen, and birch trees and collect sap with their long tongues. A row of small holes on a tree trunk is a tell-tale sign of their presence. Aside from sap they also will eat a variety of insects, some of which get trapped in the sticky sap near their wells.
How to attract woodpeckersFor many of us, attracting woodpeckers to our feeders or yards is something we love. They are quite as commonly seen as chickadees, titmice, or cardinals and add a bit of excitement. However they are harder to spot and also harder to attract. Here are some tips on how to attract woodpeckers to your yard.
- Offer food they like - Many types of woodpeckers are known for visiting bird feeders. Consider putting up a suet feeder as well as offering black sunflower seed. Be sure to get a suet feeder with a tail prop area that will help attract larger woodpeckers.
- Leave dead trees alone - Woodpeckers love dead and dying trees that are easy to bore holes in and have plenty of insect larvae for them to eat.
- Put up nest boxes - Many species of woodpeckers will use nest boxes. Pileated woodpeckers have a history of using nesting boxes from May to July.
- Plant native fruit bearing plants and trees - Woodpeckers may sometimes relish fruits and berries such as dogwood, serviceberry, tupelo, mountain ash, strawberry, cherry, grapes, bayberry, holly, blueberries, apples, mulberry, brambles, and elderberries.
- Don't forget the water - Woodpeckers will use bird baths like any other birds so have a water source available, preferably with a water mover or solar fountain to help attract them. Solar fountains with batteries tend to work the best so that the fountain doesn't stop every time the sun goes behind a cloud.