Indiana Woodpeckers: Pictures and Information

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picture of a yellow-shafted Northern Flicker, one of the more common Indiana woodpeckers

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The state hosts seven woodpecker species and according to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Woodpeckers are found throughout Indiana. Downy, red-headed, and hairy woodpeckers are common in backyards as well as forested areas. Pileated woodpeckers are usually found only in forested areas, but can sometimes be seen at backyard birdfeeders near a woodlot

All seven species can also be found at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis, suggesting that the birds inhabit many forested and residential areas across the state.

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

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 red-bellied woodpecker
Red-bellied woodpeckers larger than average birds with an outgoing personality. They easily adapt to backyard feeders and their loud vocalizations can often be heard through the neighborhood.

The stomach feathers have barely a hint of red to them. The back and top of the male’s head is red. The female’s head is lacks the red crown on the head, however the nape is red.

picture of Red-headed Woodpecker
Red-headed woodpeckers rank as the most wide spread of the Melanerpes species, with a presence in almost every state from the Rocky Mountains and destinations east. It’s physical appearance translates into easy identification. The head, covered in red feathers, along with a white stomach stands out in a crowded woodpecker field. Both males and females share this feature. Juveniles have brown feathers on the head for their first year.

They enjoy open areas with grasses and woodlands, especially oak dominated areas because the consume acorns. Their propensity for nuts also means they are easily enticed to backyard feeders with suet or other healthy nuts such as sunflower seeds.

Woodpeckers: Picoides


picture of a male downy woodpecker
The smallest and most common of Indiana’s woodpeckers, the Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) adapts equally well to most wilderness and residential areas with trees.

Its black and white feather pattern resembles the slightly larger Hairy Woodpecker. See the picture below for a comparison. Downy Woodpeckers typically have small bills.

picture of a male 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.

Indiana 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. Indiana is prime territory for the wintering sapsuckers.

Males have a red crown and throat. Females only have a red crown. It’s very easy to identify in its East Coast territories.

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