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New Jersey has seven woodpecker species, and none talked about more recently than the Red-headed woodpecker, pictured above.
Red-headed woodpeckers might be considered the rock stars of New Jersey woodpeckers. They are listed as threatened in New Jersey and even had a special Wildlife Conservation liscence plate created for them.
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.
Red-bellied woodpeckers, on the other hand, are one of the most common of the state’s woodpeckers. They are year round residents and found at most backyard feeders.
Physically, the name red-bellied can be a bit misleading because 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 buffy and the nape is red.
They belong to the same genus as the Acorn Woodpecker, and like them, they are known to store food in cracks in trees. Their diet also consists of in season fruit, nuts and insects.
Yellow-shafted Northern Flickers are one of the very common woodpeckers in the state.
Flickers are the ground feeders of the woodpecker family. They can commonly been seen walking across the lawn as they forage for ants. Often thy can be approached for a picture so long as you don’t spook them with sudden movements. Then they tend to take flight and perch in the nearest trees.
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.
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. So, they are survived in New Jersey despite habitat encroachment. While their population levels are not high, they can be found in areas with sufficient woodlands.
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.
Downy and Hairy woodpeckers are common across the United States, and look very similar.
Downy Woodpeckers, the smaller of the two, also have a smaller bill.
Compare the picture of the Hairy with the Downy and the larger bill of the Hairy woodpecker becomes obvious. Otherwise, the black and white striped face, white belly and back feathers look very similar. Males also have a red crown.
Both species are comfortable in forests and residential areas alike. Look for them at the backyard feeder.
The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is only non-breeding woodpecker in the state. It migrates to most areas, including coastal areas during the winter months.
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.
They are not known to be common backyard feeder birds.