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8 Species of Woodpeckers in Florida (Pictures)

 Last Reviewed by Jesse Foutch on 03-29-2024

Want to learn about woodpeckers in Florida? This article will guide you through the 8 species you can find in the state, where and when to spot them, and share some interesting facts and photos of each.

Florida’s climate varies, with most of the state having a humid subtropical climate. This supports a variety of birds, including several types of woodpeckers. The southern tip has a tropical climate, and the north can be more temperate in winter. This mix makes Florida a great home for many bird species, some of which are found only here or visit during winter.

If you read until the end I’ll even show you the biggest woodpecker in North America that would make the 9th species, but unfortunately is likely extinct. 

The 8 species of woodpeckers in Florida

The 8 species of woodpeckers found in Florida are the Red-headed Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Northern Flicker, and the Pileated Woodpecker.

If you count the Ivory-billed Woodpecker which is is most likely extinct then that would make 9.

1. Red-headed Woodpecker

red-headed woodpecker

Length: 7.5-9.1 in 
Weight: 2.0-3.2 oz 
Wingspan: 16.5 in 

The Red-headed Woodpecker has a “breeding and wintering” range in Florida. They migrate to central-northern parts of the U.S. and southern Canada each season to breed so the best time to see one in Florida is during the winter months.

They are easily recognized by their fiery-red heads and can be found in forests, especially around dead or dying trees and in swampy areas.

Red-headed Woodpeckers will occasionally visit backyard feeders, preferably suet feeders. They also eat seeds, corn, acorns, beechnuts, pecans, and many kinds of fruits (including apples, pears, cherries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, grapes, mulberries, and poison ivy fruits). They have a declining population and are a bit less common to see at feeders than other types of woodpeckers.

2. Red-bellied Woodpecker

Length: 9.4 in
Weight: 2.0-3.2 oz
Wingspan: 13.0-16.5 in

The Red-bellied is one of the woodpeckers in Florida with a year-round population throughout the state, as well as much of the eastern United States. While they do have red on their heads and their red bellies aren’t extremely red, don’t confuse them with Red-headed Woodpeckers.

These medium-sized woodpeckers are more common at feeders than red-heads especially if you are offering suet. They prefer nesting in dead trees and can occasionally be seen drinking nectar from hummingbird feeders.

3. 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 in Florida all year long as they do not migrate. They are very common throughout almost all of the U.S. and are the smallest species of woodpeckers in North America. They are also very common at bird feeders many times being the first to visit a new feeder.

They 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 their white spots on their backs and white underbellies. Males also will have a red patch on top of their heads.

4. 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 the same bird again in this picture. The answer is no, but they sure do look alike. Hairy Woodpeckers are also found all year in Florida, aside for a few small patches in southern Florida.

These woodpeckers are significantly larger than Downy’s and have a noticeably larger beak. Other than that they are difficult to tell apart and are very similar in all ways. I have found them to be less common at bird feeders overall.

Field guides can point out the field marks to distinguish hard to tell apart birds, such as the Downy (left) and Hairy (right) Woodpecker.

5. Red-cockaded Woodpecker

photo by: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast | CC 2.0

Length: 7.9-9.1 in
Weight: 1.5-1.8 oz
Wingspan: 14.2 in

A spotty resident to only the southeast in the United States, the Red-cockaded Woodpecker can be found year-round throughout most of Florida. This woodpecker is listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and has a steeply declining population due to habitat loss.

Because of this it’s unlikely you will see this bird in your backyard and your best chance to spot one is in a National Park or wildlife refuge of some type. To learn more about Red-cockaded Woodpeckers in Florida check out this page on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website.

6. 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 has a non-breeding range in Florida as well as southeastern U.S., Central America, Cuba, and the Bahamas. Since they migrate north to Canada each year to breed, they are winter residents to Florida.

A good time to see one would be during the winter months, or late March and early April as they migrate north. They aren’t common at bird feeders and do in fact eat sap as their primary food source.

They drill holes into maple, elm, aspen, and birch trees and collect sap with their long tongues. Aside from sap they also will eat a variety of insects.

7. Northern Flicker

Length: 11.0-12.2 in
Weight: 3.9-5.6 oz
Wingspan: 16.5-20.1 in

Northern Flickers are pretty widespread in North America, including the entire state of Florida where they have a year-round range. These large woodpeckers are between the size of a Hairy and a Pileated Woodpecker.

In my opinion they are among some of the most colorful birds in North America and I love catching a glimpse of one in my yard. Northern Flickers are different from other woodpeckers in that they hunt for their food on the ground and not in trees. They will pick through dirt and leaves looking for insects, and they’re pretty good at it too!

8. 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 woodpeckers in Florida, as well as North America. They are roughly crow-sized, have long necks, white stripes along their sides, and red mo-hawks.

Pileated Woodpeckers are hard to mistake for another species unless its the Ivory-billed Woodpecker below, but that won’t happen as you’ll soon find out. They will often visit suet feeders or logs stuffed with suet or peanut butter.

They nest in large trees and the holes they drill provide nesting opportunities for dozens of other species of birds that are unable to excavate their own.

Honorary mention

9. Ivory-billed Woodpecker (likely extinct)

original photo by: Arthur A. Allen in 1935, watercolored by Jerry A. Payne | CC 3.0

Length: 18.1-20.1 in
Weight: 15.9-20.1 oz
Wingspan: 29.9-31.5 in

Even though this species was believed to be extinct, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker has not officially been declared so as of yet. There was a sighting in Cuba in the 1980’s but none since that I know of. As you can see they are similar in appearance to the Pileated, but are thought to be a bit larger even.

Ivory-billed Woodpeckers still technically have a year-round range in the state, even though there hasn’t been a sighting of one in Florida in decades. There is still hope though, sightings have been reported in other places around the country as recently as 2008, perhaps more recently if you believe the reports. The footage produced seems to be blurry and unclear so the sightings may not have been officially accepted as genuine.

Having said all that, this is a direct quote from

“The Ivory-billed Woodpecker is probably extinct”


5 thoughts on “8 Species of Woodpeckers in Florida (Pictures)”

    • Hi Candice – I suppose there is always a chance in a rare case, but for the most part it’s highly unlikely. Red Cockaded Woodpeckers almost exclusively nest in living pine trees.

  1. I live in Mobile, AL. We have a lot of the same birds so I am wondering about a small Woodpecker we see. It’s not a Downy but similar in size. It has red on the top of its head but never on the nape. I believe we have seen immature too. The black and white markings are different than the Downy as well as the location of the red patch. The female or immature has a smaller red patch on top of head. I don’t see the distinctive white vertical marking on it like in our bird book. It is smaller than the bird books state that a yellow bellied sapsucker would be. I assumed it was the yellow bellied sapsucker. Now, I don’t know what we are seeing. It’s been coming since last year some time.

    • The only woodpeckers that really fit that description in your area are the Downy, Hairy and Yellow-bellied sapsucker. You’re looking at the right things, the location of the red patch is a very good indicator. If you say it has red on the top of it’s head only (not the nape area at the back of the head or the throat) it might be a female yellow-bellied sapsucker. They have red at the top of the head only, and their plumage coloring can vary a little so that some don’t look particularly yellow at all. You can also look at placement of white patches. The sapsucker will have a white bar that follows along their wing on the sides of their body, where the Downy or Hairy has a white patch in the middle of its back. Lastly, try and gauge the bill size. Downy’s bills are short, while a Hairy or sapsucker will have a longer bill about the same width as their head. It’s always possible, although unlikely, that you are seeing something rare for your area. Try checking out this page on the woodpecker family, you can click through to see more pictures and detail that might help you figure it out.

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