Idaho Woodpeckers: Pictures and Information

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picture of a red-naped sapsucker, part of the Idaho woodpeckers collection

The Northwest geography makes for a healthy population of ten differenty types of Idaho Woodpeckers.

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The birds button on the left leads to information suited to answering additional identification questions.

The Red-naped Sapsucker picks up its range where the Red-breasted Sapsucker range ends, the forest areas of the Rocky Mountain region. They are migratory and while some will take to the valleys of the Rocky Mountains during the winter months, many also Sapsuckers winter in Mexico, and central America. When they migrate to the valleys they are often seen in residential areas.

picture of a Williamson's Sapsucker
Williamson’s Sapsuckers inhabit the mountain areas of the West, including the Rocky Mountains, the Cascades and the Sierra Nevada.

Of special interest is that males and females diverge in their physical appearance. Males, like the one pictured, have distinct black feathers on the head, complimented by white striped and a red throat. Females have brown feathers on the head and and black and white barred feather pattern on the body. Both sexes have yellow bellies.

Like other sapsuckers, they are not typical feeder birds, only occasional.


picture of a red-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. 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.

Popular birds, they are welcome at many back yard feeders and especially enjoy a snack of suet and water. With a life that often exceeds the five year mark, homeowners might expect a long term relationship with any flickers they might attract to the back yard feeder.

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: Melanerpes

picture of a Lewis's Woodpecker
Western states provide a very good habitat for a variety of uncommon woodpeckers. Mountains and larger tracks of old growth forest, especially Ponderosa Pine suit the Lewis’s Woodpecker needs.

The picture shows another of the woodpecker’s special features. More than any other native species, the purple to red hue on the feathers of the Lewis’s Woodpecker makes it stand out. The greenish head feathers and gray collar and chest compliment the dark wings and tail.

In the wild, they consume a variety of common insects in their territory, including ants, bees and wasps. In fall and winter, they focus on acorns and fruit, so rural homeowners in their territory might be able to entice them to the feeder. Otherwise, they are not categorized as your typical feeder bird.

Woodpeckers: Picoides

picture of a White Headed Woodpecker
Common names mean something, so it’s no surprise that the White-headed Woodpecker has a distinctly white feathered head. The picture also highlights the white wing bars. There’s no mistaking it in the wild. It’s a regional specialty bird that inhabits the forest areas of the greater Pacific Northwest.

picture of a Black-backed Woodpecker
Most Americans are unfamiliar with the Black-backed woodpecker. They are not your typical feeder bird. Rather their preferred habitat is the Northern Boreal forests, especially those that suffere some type of damage. That’s the case because their diet consists rimarily of insects, especially wood-boring beetles that flock to large dead and moribund trees.

Black-backed woodpecker populatons necessarily are links to habitat changes. In times of abundant food, populations thrive. Unfortunately in times where forest areas recover, their populations decrease.

They are cavity nesters, similar to other woodpeciers. As the picture highlights, the yellow crown on the male distinguishes them from the typical red crown of more common woodpecker species. Females have a black crown.

picture of a Three-toed Woodpecker
When the woodpecker discussion turns to climate, the American Three-toed Woodpecker gets the nod as the most hardy of the native woodpecker species. It breeds farther north than any other American woodpecker.

Physically it resembles the Black-backed Woodpecker, although it’s a bit smaller with a shorter bill. Otherwise, the black and white bars on the back and presence of a yellow crown on the male are similar. Female has solid black crown.

Populations in the far north and high mountains may migrate to the valleys, and on rare occurrences even further south, during the winter. Otherwise, they are not known as a regular migratory species. Their life in the woods means they are not known as a common backyard feeder bird.

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
Hairy Woodpeckers resemble Downy Woodpeckers with a few exceptions. 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.

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