Florida’s mostly tropical climate allows for a wide variety of wildlife to thrive here. Many different species of birds live in Florida that don’t live anywhere else in the country because of this. While other’s spend their winters in Florida. In this article we’ll talk about the 8 common species of woodpeckers in Florida. I’ll go over those species and talk about where and when they can be seen in Florida. We’ll also hit on a few fun facts about woodpeckers and have a picture of each species.
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
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.
5. Red-cockaded Woodpecker
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. 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.
9. Ivory-billed Woodpecker (likely extinct)
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. 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 allaboutbirds.org:
The Ivory-billed Woodpecker is probably extinct.
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.