9 Woodpeckers of Wisconsin: Best ID Guide

9 Woodpeckers of Wisconsin: Spring is over, and now it’s summer. For those who love watching birds, this is the perfect time. Birds are everywhere, showing off in the summer.

They are flying all over the place, from the American southwest with its hunting birds, to the Snowy plovers on the Pacific Coast, and even to the huge groups of birds traveling from the Canadian Arctic to the Gulf of Mexico (and beyond).

But, there is one bird that bird-watchers really love because of its unique sounds, its creativity, and its famous role in TV and movies: Woody Woodpecker.

In Wisconsin, you can easily spot 8 different types of woodpeckers. Sometimes, you might even see other kinds of woodpeckers that are just passing through or maybe looking for some of Wisconsin’s famous cheese curds.

9 Woodpeckers of Wisconsin

The University of Wisconsin – Madison says that there are 8 types of woodpeckers that you usually find in Wisconsin: Black-backed Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers, Hairy Woodpeckers, Northern Flickers, Pileated Woodpeckers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Red-headed Woodpeckers, and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers.

There’s also a ninth kind of woodpecker you might find in Wisconsin, called the American Three-toed Woodpecker. It lives in a more specific area compared to the others.

Now, let’s get to know each type of woodpecker in Wisconsin. Now Imagine this, Martin Tyler, was doing the introductions at a big match. He might say something thrilling like. “And here it comes, ladies and gentlemen, soaring through the trees at a magnificent height of 9 inches and a weight of 45 grams. Let’s welcome the energetic Downy Woodpecker!”

Well, that’s just a fun idea. Where Do Birds Go At Night?

Anyway, every kind of woodpecker in Wisconsin has its own important job and way of living. Let’s find out more about them.

Woodpecker In Wisconsin

American Three-toed Woodpeckers

Colors: The American Three-toed Woodpeckers look a lot like the Black-backed Woodpeckers in size and color. They have black and white stripes down their backs and a mix of black and white spots on their bellies. The male birds have a yellow spot on their foreheads.

Weight: They weigh between 1.6 to 2.4 ounces.

Length: They are about 8.3 to 9.1 inches long.

Wingspan: Their wingspan ranges from 14.6 to 15.3 inches.

9 Woodpeckers of Wisconsin American three-toed woodpecker

A bit more information:

These birds, like the Black-backed Woodpeckers, spend a lot of time working on just one tree. However, instead of drilling deep into the wood, they search all around the bark.

Both the Black-backs and the American Three-toes have three toes, which helps them hit the tree harder when they are drilling. They mostly live where there are spruce trees, not just because they like these trees, but because these forests often have beetle infestations, which they feed on.

Black-backed Woodpeckers

Colors: They have matte or ink-black backs, white bellies, and stripes on their sides. Their heads are mostly black, with a small white line above the beak. Males and young birds of both genders have a yellow crown.

Weight: They weigh between 2.1 to 3.1 ounces.

Length: They are around 9.1 inches long.

Wingspan: Their wingspan ranges from 15.8 to 16.5 inches.

9 Woodpeckers of Wisconsin Black-backed woodpeckers

A bit more information:

Black-backed Woodpeckers do well in areas that have been affected by fire or where a lot of trees have died. They spend a lot of time digging in one spot to find beetle larvae deep inside dead or dying trees.

This species is rarer in Wisconsin, mostly appearing in the upper half of the state. The way Black-backed Woodpeckers are spread out across the US is quite interesting, and scientists still have questions about what natural barriers could create such clear borders for where this species lives.

Downy Woodpeckers

Colors: They have white backs, black wings with white spots, and males have a small red patch on the back of their heads.

Weight: They weigh between 0.74 to 1 ounce.

Length: They are 6 to 7 inches long.

Wingspan: Their wingspan ranges from 10 to 12 inches.

9 Woodpeckers of Wisconsin Downy Woodpeckers

A bit more information:

Downy Woodpeckers are found in many parts of the United States. In fact, it’s easier to say where they aren’t found than where they are. They don’t live in Hawaii, and there are some places in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and Alaska where you won’t find them.

Downy Woodpeckers are small birds, so they don’t live very long, usually just a year or two. Something interesting about them is that they don’t seem to be affected by habitat fragmentation, which is when the places they live get broken up by things like roads and buildings. This is a problem for many other types of wildlife in the US.

Hairy 9 Woodpeckers of Wisconsin

Colors: They look almost exactly like the Downy Woodpeckers, with white backs, black wings with white spots, and the males have a red patch.

Weight: They weigh between 1.4 to 3.4 ounces.

Length: They are 7 to 10.2 inches long.

Wingspan: Their wingspan ranges from 13 to 16.1 inches.

9 Woodpeckers of Wisconsin hairy woodpeckers

A bit more information:

Hairy Woodpeckers are very similar to Downy Woodpeckers in many ways, including their appearance. They live all across North America, from Central America to Northern Canada.

However, they do have some regional differences. In Wisconsin, Hairy Woodpeckers have clear black and white markings, and their beaks are at least as long as their heads.

These birds play an important role in the health of forests, especially after fires. They help to control bark beetle infestations by feeding on them, which is beneficial for the forest.

Northern Flicker

Colors: Like many woodpecker species, their colors can vary a bit depending on the region (east vs. west). Generally, they have a brownish tint with a white underside. The underside of their wings is a bright yellow, and they often have noticeable black spots and patches.

Weight: They weigh between 3.9 to 5.6 ounces.

Length: They are 11 to 12.2 inches long.

Wingspan: Their wingspan ranges from 16.5 to 20.1 inches.

A bit more information:

These woodpeckers prefer to search for food near the ground rather than high up on tree trunks. Although they can dig into bark like other woodpeckers, they like to hunt through the dirt and use their barbed tongue to pick up ants from the ground.

Like some other species, Flickers use their drumming not just to look for food, but also to mark their territory and keep other birds away.

Pileated Woodpeckers

Colors: They have a black body with bold white stripes down the neck, a bright red crest, and distinct white underwings. Male birds might have a red stripe along their cheek that goes to their beak.

Weight: They weigh between 8.8 to 12.3 ounces.

Length: They are 15.8 to 19.3 inches long.

Wingspan: Their wingspan ranges from 26.0 to 29.5 inches.

A bit more information:

Pileated Woodpeckers are the biggest woodpeckers in North America, about the size of a full-grown crow. Thanks to their size, they can make perfect rectangular holes in trees to find ant colonies. These holes can be so big that they can even cause trees to break at the spot where they were digging.

Pileated Woodpeckers are not found everywhere in the US; they are mostly missing from the American West (except the Pacific Coast) and don’t show up in the Midwest until you get to Wisconsin. They are also known for their loud and rhythmic drumming on trees when they are digging.

Red-Bellied Woodpeckers of Wisconsin

Colors: The colors of Red-bellied Woodpeckers are usually described as pale or tinted, meaning they are not very bright. They have a back with black and white stripes, a reddish cap, and some blotchy red areas on their chest and belly.

Weight: They weigh between 2 to 3.2 ounces.

Length: They are around 9.4 inches long.

Wingspan: Their wingspan ranges from 13 to 16.5 inches.

A bit more information:

Red-bellied Woodpeckers prefer to carefully pick apart the outer bark of trees rather than drilling deep into the tree’s core. They have unique hunting and foraging techniques, including using their extremely long tongues, which can extend up to 2 inches past the end of their beaks.

They also place nuts in tight crevices and use them as supports to break the shells open. Red-bellied Woodpeckers are known to engage in complex learning experiences, with young birds practicing evasive flying techniques.

Red-Headed Woodpeckers

Colors: Red-headed woodpeckers have a stark-white body, a crimson-red head like their names implies, and wings that are half black and half white.

Weight: They weigh between 2 to 3.2 ounces.

Length: Red-headed woodpeckers are 7.5 to 9.1 inches long.

Wingspan: Red-headed woodpeckers’ wingspan is about 16.5 inches.

A bit more information:

Red-headed Woodpeckers have found their own unique way of living, not just relying on trees, fallen logs, and other stationary food sources, but also being very good at catching food in mid-air.

They do well in wooded areas that have open spaces underneath because these settings offer more opportunities for their varied hunting habits. These birds are known to be very territorial, and because of this, they have become a symbol of war in Native American folklore.

Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers

Colors: Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers have a clear black and white pattern with well-defined stripes on their faces. Both male and female Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers have red on their foreheads, but males also have red on their throats.

There is a white stripe down more than half of the wing length when the wing is folded. Some of these birds have white or yellow underbellies, which is where their name comes from.

Weight: They weigh between 1.5 to 1.9 ounces.

Length: They are 7.1 to 8.7 inches long.

Wingspan: Their wingspan ranges from 13.4 to 15.8 inches.

Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers

A bit more information:

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are one of the few woodpecker species that don’t live on the West Coast. In fact, Wisconsin is at the natural boundary of their habitat range.

They are the only woodpecker species in the Eastern half of North America that are fully migratory, meaning they rarely stay in the same territory for a whole year (unlike most species).

As their name suggests, they feed on tree sap and have been known to tap nearly 1000 species of trees to find it.

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