Washington DC Woodpeckers: Pictures and Information

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picture of a red-bellied woodpecker, part of the Washington DC woodpeckers collection

Washington DC woodpeckers are present throughout most of the year. They tend to live in the trees that surround some of the country’s most iconic monuments and parks, so they are there to meet and greet all of the Capitol City’s tourists.

All residents and tourists can also make the trip to Rock Creek Park for additional woodpecker wonders.

Woodpecker popularity partially comes about because they enjoy living in and around residential areas. That makes them great photography subjects. Share your woodpecker pictures and stories with the community.

The bird button on the left leads to information suited to answering more bird identification questions.

Woodpeckers: Melanerpes


close up picture of Red-headed Woodpecker face and belly
Washington DC birders are greeted with the sight of Red-bellied woodpeckers at the feeder on most days. They are year round residents of the Capitol City.

Males like the one in the picture have a head and nesk covered in red feathers. Females lack the red head featers. The picture also suggests that he red-bellied can be a bit misleading. The stomache area feathers have barely a hint of red to them.

Tourists to the nation’s capitol also ought not mix up their woodpeckers with red names. A bird watching excursion in Washington also means crossing paths with Red-headed woodpeckers.

From a physical point of view, it’s practically impossible to misidentify it with any other species. Males and females have head covered in red feathers, along with a white stomache feathers. Juveniles have brown feathers on the head for their first year.

Woodpecker enthusiasts with backyard feeders can attest to their gregarious nature. They don’t mind flocking in large groups when food is plentiful. In those times, they can be a bit vocal. In the northernmost area of their range they are a summer resident for breeding and then migrate south for the winter.

Flickers


picture of a Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker
Flickers (genus Colaptes) rank as one of the most common woodpeckers in the United States. They have a presence in every single state, and they adapt to residential areas with little trouble.

Although instances of hybridization continues to be a subject of technical discussion, for practical purposes it’s fine to point out that only two flicker species have been documented. The Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) is the species most familiar to Americans and it divides into western and eastern subspecies. The West Coast variant is named the Red-shafted Northern Flicker and the East Coast variant is named the Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker, and that’s the Washington DC subspecies. The color designation refers to the under the wing color of their tail and wing feathers.

Flickers are the ground feeders of the woodpecker family. They prefer open habitats such as fields and residential areas because they supply them with their primary food sources such as insects, seeds and berries. The male is distinguished from the female by the red patch on the cheek.

Woodpeckers: Dryocopus


picture of a Pileated Woodpecker
The red crested head and white stripes across the face makes it difficult to mistake the Pileated Woodpecker for any other species. It’s the only species in the Dryocopus genus in the United Sates and probably the largest woodpecker in any area.

Pileated Woodpeckers are habitat adaptable. That fact partially explains their range. With the exception of the Rocky Mountain states and the Midwest, they can be found from coast to coast. They need some dense forested area for habitat. In the West, they prefer old growth habitat and in the East they can adapt to the younger forests.

They are described as both shy and adapted to human environments. Their attitude toward humans probably depends on the particulars of their territory. In instances where they breed and live in non-residential areas, they can be shy. There are also ample examples of their being enticed to backyard bird feeders.

Woodpeckers: Picoides


picture of a downy woodpecker
North America’s most diverse woodpecker genera, Picoides, records nine separate species. The smallest and most common Picoides, the Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) adapts equally well to most wilderness and residential areas with trees.

Physically, the Downy’s black and white feather pattern resembles the slightly larger Hairy Woodpecker. In instances where size comparisons might not be available, experts suggest examining the bill size in relation to the head size. Downy Woodpeckers typically have small bills.

picture of a Hairy Woodpecker
Everything that is written about the Downy Woodpecker can be written about the Hairy Woodpecker with few caveats. The picture highlights the most important caveat, they have a larger bill than the Downy. Otherwise, the black and white striped face, white belly and back feathers look very similar. Males also have a red crown.

They are a very common species across the United States because they are adaptable to forests and residential areas alike. Look for them at the backyard feeder.

Washington DC Woodpeckers: Sapsuckers


picture of a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is the most far ranging of all the native sapsucker species. It breeds across Canada from Coast to Coast and in the winter returns to most forested areas west of the Rocky Mountains. It’s the only species that does not live year round in Washington DC.

Males have a red crown and throat. Females only have a red crown. It’s very easy to identify in its East Coast territories. There might be some overlap with the Red-naped Sapsucker territory. The presence of red feathers on the back of the neck differentiates the Red-naped Sapsucker from the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

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