Florida woodpeckers

FLORIDA WOODPECKERS Types, Sounds and More

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Species of woodpeckers present in Florida

There are many interesting and distinctive species of woodpeckers found in Florida, which offers a wide variety of habitats and ecosystems. The woodpeckers of Florida are a treat to see and hear in their native settings, ranging from the enigmatic Red-Cockaded Woodpecker, which is found only in mature pine

forests, to the magnificent Pileated Woodpecker. For woodpeckers, Florida is an ideal location to be. Florida’s long summers make the state warm all year round. The state has moderate winters. It makes it an amazing destination for birds fleeing the bitter cold of other states’ winters. In Florida, there are up to

nine different species of woodpeckers. While some are seasonal migrants, others live there permanently. For instance, the summer is when you’re most likely to spot a Downy Woodpecker than the winter. Visit bird feeders or Florida’s forests and woods if you want to see woodpeckers up close.

“Let’s Dive into Florida Woodpeckers World,” described as “a fascinating journey into the world of these unique birds,” is highly recommended.

Florida biggest and smallest woodpeckers

Based on size, four size groups of woodpeckers can be identified in Florida. The two largest woodpecker species are the pileated woodpecker (10.5 oz) and the northern flicker (4.7 oz).Red-bellied, red-headed, and hairy woodpeckers are among

the medium-sized woodpeckers, with an average weight of 2.5 ounces. The downy woodpecker, red-cockaded woodpecker, and yellow-bellied sapsucker comprise the small size group. The tiniest woodpecker of all is the downy woodpecker, weighing only 0.8 ounces.

The two smaller groupings differ slightly in size from one another. Size disparities may make it difficult to properly identify between species in the field. Florida woodpecker individual weights and lengths are displayed in a table.

Woodpecker SpeciesWeight (ounces – oz)Length (inches)
Pileated Woodpecker10.517.5
Northern Flicker4.711.6
Red-bellied Woodpecker2.69.4
Red-headed Woodpecker2.68.3
Hairy Woodpecker2.48.6
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker1.77.5
Red-cockaded Woodpecker1.68.5
Downy Woodpecker0.86.1

Woodpecker Food

Florida woodpeckers can be divided into 3 separate groups based on the food type and how they obtain it

Typical woodpeckers: include every species of woodpecker, excluding sapsuckers and flickers. Typically, woodpeckers cling to trunks and branches in order to extract bark or pierce the wood in search of ant, beetle, or insect larvae.

Flickers: This category solely includes the northern flicker in Florida. Mostly ground woodpeckers, flickers are distinct from other woodpecker species. Flickers have become experts at eating only ants and their larvae. Flickers peck on the ground at ant nests, searching for the nutrient-rich larvae found in ant colonies, as opposed to on wood.

Sapsuckers: Consist solely of the yellow-bellied sapsucker, a bird that has evolved to eat only tree sap. They drill rows of sap wells and eat the insects drawn to and held in the sap well in addition to the sap that flows out of the wells. In addition to finding insects by pealing off bark, yellow-bellied sapsuckers also use berries to enhance their diet.

Characteristics of Florida woodpeckers

Nest Cavity ExcavationWoodpeckers in Florida create nesting cavities in dead wood. The red-cockaded woodpecker excavates in live pine trees, taking up to a year to complete a cavity.
Nest Construction TimeExcavating a new nesting cavity takes 2-3 weeks for woodpeckers in dead wood. Red-cockaded woodpeckers may take up to a year.
Nesting MaterialWoodpeckers do not build a typical nest inside the cavity. They lay eggs in a bed of wood chips accumulated during excavation.
Egg Laying and IncubationFemale woodpeckers lay 2-10 eggs. Both parents incubate during the day, while males exclusively incubate during the night. Incubation period lasts 9-14 days.
Entrance Hole CharacteristicsNesting cavity entrance hole measurements, depth, and chamber size vary by woodpecker species. Pileated woodpeckers create large oval holes, flickers make smaller semi-oval ones. Other woodpeckers have smaller round entrance holes. Red-cockaded woodpeckers reuse the same cavity.
Breeding SystemMost Florida woodpeckers are monogamous, with one male and one female forming a breeding pair. Red-cockaded woodpeckers use a cooperative system where an alpha pair breeds yearly, assisted by non-breeding helpers who are siblings from earlier broods.

Papulation Guide

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Sphyrapicus varius, often known as the yellow-bellied sapsucker, is distinguished by a distinct white wing patch on its black and white back. Most of the tummy is white. Females have a white throat, and males have a red cap and throat. A brownish-gray color pattern characterizes juveniles.

FoodSap is the yellow-bellied sapsucker’s main food source. It captures insects and eats fruit, ants, and spiders. Forests with hardwood and coniferous trees are the preferred habitat. It is rather typical in suburban areas with semi-open woodlands.
BehaviorClings to tree trunks and branches, usually in solitude. To obtain sap, rows of sap wells are drilled into tree bark. Regular drumming sounds like morse code.
NestThe cavities are excavated in decaying wood and have a circular entrance hole that is about 1.5 inches in diameter. The cavities are around 10 inches deep. It takes two to three weeks to excavate.
Breeding Seasonfrom mid-May until mid-July. lays four to six white, spherical eggs when mating. The complete process from egg laying to fledging takes roughly 40 days, with the incubation phase lasting 12 days and the nestling phase lasting 28 days.
LifespanMinimum lifespan of 7 years and 9 months.
Population EstimateIn North America, there are thought to be 14 million yellow-bellied sapsuckers.
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker birdzpedia.com

Red-bellied Woodpecker

The wings and back of the red-bellied woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) are barred in black and white, while the sides of the head, breast, and abdomen are a light warm brown color. Males only have red on the nape; females only have red on the crown.

FoodThe diet of red-bellied woodpeckers consists of both plant-based foods and invertebrates. They can even devour small lizards. They also eat spiders, beetles, acorns, berries, and seeds.
HabitatThe most common Florida woodpecker, it can be found in semi-open settings, wooded suburban areas, deciduous woods, and tree-filled places.
BehaviorUsually by themselves, red-bellied woodpeckers catch a ride on tree trunks and branches. Rather than boring into the bark, they prefer to pluck at it to find insects.
NestCreate pits in dead wood that are about 27 cm deep and have a circular entrance hole that is about 11 cm in diameter. Nesting boxes are used by some.
Breeding SeasonEarly April through mid-September.
Breeding Periodlays two to six spherical, white eggs, and it takes around 38 days for the eggs to hatch (12 days for incubation and 26 days for nestlings).
LifespanThe minimum lifespan of a red-bellied woodpecker is 12 years and 3 months.
Population EstimateThere are 16 million red-bellied woodpeckers in North America, according to estimates.
Red-bellied Woodpecker birdzpedia.com

Downy Woodpecker

The little, black-and-white downy woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens) is easily recognized. The female lacks the red patch on the nape that males have. Take note of the bill’s relative shortness.

FoodDowny Primarily, woodpeckers consume insects found inside wood, although they also consume berries, acorns, ants, caterpillars, and grains. They visit backyard bird feeders on a regular basis.
HabitatPrefers to feed on tall shrubs and ornamental plants; prefers deciduous woodlands. Typical in urban semi-open woods.
BehaviorHitch acrobatically up, down, and around small branches and twigs, searching for beetle larvae, ants, and other invertebrates by peeling and hammering into bark and wood.
NestIn one to three weeks, dig holes in dead wood that are about nine inches deep and have a round entrance hole that is between one and one and a half inches in diameter.
Breeding SeasonEarly April through late July.
Breeding Periodlays three to eight spherical, white eggs, and it takes about thirty-one days for the eggs to hatch (12 days for incubation, 19 days for nestlings).
LifespanIt is at least 11 years and 11 months that a downy woodpecker lives.
Population EstimateThirteen million downy woodpeckers are thought to exist in North America.
Downy Woodpecker birdzpedia.com

Hairy Woodpecker

Leuconotopicus villosus, also known as the hairy woodpecker, is distinguished by its black and white head, back, wings, and underparts that are white. Females lack the crimson nape patch that adult males have. Its bill is longer and it is bigger than that of the downy woodpecker.

FoodThe main food source for hairy woodpeckers is the larvae of ants, wood-boring beetles, and other invertebrates. They eat a limited amount of fruit and seeds. They visit backyard bird feeders on a regular basis.
HabitatUtilize a range of forest types, with older forests being preferred as they are more likely to harbor wood-boring beetle larvae. Concentrate, especially after burns, on places where there are a lot of dead trees. occurs in the suburbs.
BehaviorHitch along the branches and trunk at every height, from the top of the tree to very close to the ground. Drills deadwood and bark actively to find beetle larvae.
NestCreate slightly oblong entrance holes in dead wood that are about 2 inches high and 1.5 inches wide. The cavities should be around 10 inches deep.
Breeding SeasonMid-March through late July.
Breeding Periodlays three to six white, spherical eggs, and it takes about thirty-one days for the eggs to hatch (12 days for incubation, 29 days for nestlings).
LifespanA hairy woodpecker’s lifespan is at least fifteen years and eleven months.
Population EstimateIt is estimated that there are 8.7 million hairy woodpeckers in North America.
Hairy Woodpecker birdzpedia.com

Red-cockaded Woodpecker

The head, back, and wings of the red-cockaded woodpecker (Leuconotopicus borealis) are all black and white. The sides have black markings, while the underparts are white. A tiny red patch on the neck of the male is absent in the female.

FoodPrimarily feeding on insects found in the pine tree bark, red-cockaded woodpeckers consume beetles, ants, and insect larvae. In pine forests, they also consist of berries and pine seeds. They avoid going to bird feeders in backyards.
HabitatAlmost only found in old pine forests with a short, distinct understory that burns regularly. Not found in the suburbs. regarded as a bird that is critically endangered.
BehaviorGather food in boisterous family gatherings. Nesting cavity clusters are surrounded by established areas that families or clans protect and guard.
NestThe sole woodpecker that hollows out its holes in live pine trees. A cavity may take up to two years to fill. The spherical entrance hole of a nest cavity is approximately 3.5 inches in diameter.
Breeding SeasonEarly mid-April through late July.
Breeding Periodlays two to five spherical, white eggs, and it takes around 38 days for the eggs to hatch (11 days for incubation, 27 days for nestling).
LifespanRed-cockaded woodpeckers have a minimum lifespan of sixteen years and one month.
Population EstimateNineteen thousand red-cockaded woodpeckers are thought to exist in North America.
Red-cockaded Woodpecker birdzpedia.com

Red-headed Woodpecker

The plumage pattern of the red-headed woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) is easily recognizable. The back is black with a solid white band, and the head is red. The underside is entirely white. The plumage of the male and female is the same. The heads of juveniles are brown.

FoodThe diet of red-headed woodpeckers consists of both plant-based foods and invertebrates. They consume seeds, berries, acorns, beetles, and spiders.
HabitatPrefer forests that are open or semi-open and have a short or distinct understory. Also found in comparable environments in suburban areas.
BehaviorUse utility poles, snags, and bare branches as perches so that you can use them as a foundation to slink out and hunt insects. Typically observed in families or in couples. They gather acorns and nuts in the fall.
Nestcan dig a new cavity in roughly two weeks. Nest holes are dug out of dead wood, measuring about 5 inches deep and having a circular entrance hole that is about 2 inches in diameter.
Breeding SeasonMid-March through early September.
Breeding Periodlays three to ten spherical, white eggs, and it takes around forty days for the eggs to hatch (12 days for incubation and 28 days for nestlings).
LifespanThe lifespan of a red-headed woodpecker is nine years and eleven months.
Population EstimateIt is estimated that there are 1.8 million red-headed woodpeckers in North America.
Red-headed Woodpecker birdzpedia.com

Northern Flicker

One of the biggest woodpeckers in Florida is the northern flicker (Colaptes auratus). Its color is warm-brown, with huge black dots on its belly and black barring on its wings and back. Its chest features a large black crescent. The black malar stripe found on males is absent on females.

FoodFlickers in the north consume insects, especially ground-dwelling ants and beetles. They pound cow patties to get insect larvae inside or underneath, and they peck at ant nests to find ant larvae. In addition, they consume fruits and seeds, especially throughout the winter.
HabitatUsually found in open or semi-open environments with sporadic trees. Prefers suburban regions with light woods and the boundaries of agricultural land.
Behaviorhas an undulating flight pattern, sits on horizontal branches rather than vertical ones, and forages for food on the ground. Does not use tail as prop, in contrast to other Florida woodpeckers.
Nesthollows out spaces in dead wood. Nest cavities are typically 14 inches deep, with semi-oval entrance openings measuring 3 inches across.
Breeding SeasonLate April through early August.
Breeding Periodlays five to eighteen white eggs, which hatch after 37 days (12 days for incubation and 25 days for nestlings) before the birds fly away.
LifespanThe minimum lifespan of northern flickers is nine years and two months.
Population EstimateEleven million northern flickers are thought to exist throughout North America.
Northern Flicker birdzpedia.com

Pileated Woodpecker

The pileated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) has white stripes on its head and neck and is primarily black in color. The crests of both sexes are red, but only the male has a red malar stripe. The expanded wings display white underside and white spots when in flight.

FoodThe primary food source for pile-faced woodpeckers is insects, specifically beetle larvae, carpenter ants, and other invertebrates that live inside wood and bark. Their food also consists of fruit, berries, dogwood, and holly.
HabitatUsually found in large-treed, mature deciduous or coniferous woods. utilizes suburban semi-open forests.
Behaviorforages on their own or in pairs for food. digs broad, rectangular holes to look for beetle larvae and carpenter ants. From a distance, the sound of wood being chopped can be heard.
Nestable to dig a nesting cavity in three to six weeks. An oblong rather than a round opening leads into a pileated woodpecker cavity. The depth of the nest holes is about 16 inches, and after breeding, the birds hardly ever utilize the same cavity again.
Breeding SeasonEarly March through mid-July.
Breeding Periodlays three to five white, round eggs, and it takes about forty-five days for the eggs to hatch (17 days for incubation and 28 days for nestlings).
LifespanThe minimum lifespan of a pileated woodpecker is 12 years and 11 months.
Population EstimateIt is estimated that there are 2.6 million pileated woodpeckers in North America.
Pileated Woodpecker birdzpedia.com

Ivory bellied Woodpecker

The broad white stripes on the neck and back of the ivory-billed woodpecker (Campephius principales) contrast with its all-black appearance. The folded wings are almost entirely white. The females have a black crest, and the males have a crimson crest. The bill color is ivory for both sexes. It is thought that this woodpecker is extinct.

FoodThe primary food source for ivory-billed woodpeckers was big invertebrates, such as beetle larvae. They supplemented their diets with berries, acorns, and other fruits.
Habitatlived in old forests and wide tracts of upland, relying on dead trees for sustenance. concentrated in regions with a big number of dead trees, particularly those that have burned during a fire.
BehaviorWhen drawn to regions with a high concentration of dead trees, where wood-boring beetle larvae proliferated, they were observed foraging in pairs and frequently in small flocks.
Nest4.5 inches wide by 5.5 inches tall oval entrance holes in the excavated cavities. Naturalist John James Audubon reported that the cavity may have been as deep as two feet.
Breeding SeasonIt appears from all nesting reports that breeding took place from January to August.
Breeding PeriodKnown to lay one to five eggs. The duration of the nestling phase and the incubation period are unknown.
LifespanNo data available due to the extinction of the ivory-billed woodpecker.
Population Statuspronounced extinct. While there have been isolated reports of sightings, none have yielded conclusive proof of their existence.
Ivory bellied Woodpecker birdzpedia.com


  1. Q: What types of woodpeckers are commonly found in Florida?
  • A variety of common woodpecker species can be found in Florida, including the Pileated, Red-bellied, Downy, and Northern Flicker.
  1. Q: What is the primary food source for Florida woodpeckers?
  • A: Ants, beetles, and larvae are among the insects that Florida woodpeckers mostly eat. They eat seeds, berries, and fruits as well.
  1. Q: Do Florida woodpeckers use bird feeders?
  • A lot of Florida woodpecker species have been observed to visit home bird feeders, including the Downy and Red-bellied woodpeckers.
  1. Q: What habitats do Florida woodpeckers prefer?
  • A: Semi-open spaces, suburban areas with appropriate trees, and woodlands with both deciduous and coniferous trees are frequent habitats for Florida woodpeckers.
  1. Q: How do Florida woodpeckers behave during breeding season?
  • A: Although their habits vary, woodpeckers frequently dig nest chambers in dead wood, lay eggs, and actively search for food to feed their nestlings during the breeding season.
  1. Q: Are there any endangered woodpecker species in Florida?
  • A severely endangered species in Florida, the red-cockaded woodpecker is mostly found in old pine woods.
  1. Q: What distinguishes the Pileated Woodpecker’s foraging behavior?
  • A: Pileated Woodpeckers dig enormous rectangular holes to look for beetle larvae and carpenter ants. They can forage alone or in pairs. They make unique sounds when they chop wood, even from a distance.
  1. Q: Are there any extinct woodpecker species in Florida?
  • A: The Ivory-billed Woodpecker, which was formerly native to Florida, is now considered extinct. Although there have been sporadic sightings, none have offered conclusive proof of their existence.
  1. Q: How can one attract woodpeckers to their backyard?
  • A woodpecker’s attraction can be increased by stocking bird feeders with suet, nuts, and seeds. Furthermore, keeping dead trees maintained or adding nest boxes can promote their presence.

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