Welcome to Ohio Woodpeckers.
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Woodpecker popularity partially comes about because they enjoy living in and around residential areas. That makes them great photography subjects.
Here’s a run down of the seven native Ohio woodpeckers. Starting with the Norhern Flicker pictured at the top of the page.
Flicker, part of the Ohio woodpeckers collection”>
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.
Ohio hosts the East Coast subspecies, 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.
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.
It’s fortunate that Pileated Woodpeckers are habitat adaptable. Story after story is written about how decreases in old growth forest areas coincided wit decreased in Pileated Woodpecker populations in Ohio. Over the past couple of decades, as new growth forests and woodlots become more fully established, Pileated Woodpeckers have returned to most areas of Ohio.
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.
Ohio Woodpeckers: Melanerpes
Ohio also has populations of the two most common Eastern Melanerps woodpeckers, the Red-bellied woodpecker and the Red-headed woodpecker.
Red-bellied woodpeckers easily adapt to backyard feeders and their loud vocalizations can often be heard through the neighborhood.
Physically, the name red-bellied can be a bit misleading because the stomach feathers have barely a hint of red to them. The back of the neck as well at the top of the male’s head have red feathers. Females lack the red feathers on the top of the head.
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.
A head covered with red feathers contrasting with a stomach covered in white feathers insures that the Red-headed woodpecker stands out in a crowd.
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.
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.
North America’s most diverse woodpecker genera, Picoides, records nine separate species. The two most common, the Downy and Hairy, reside in Ohio.
Physically both look very similar. Overall size along with bill size are the standard field identification clues.
The Downy’s black and white feather pattern resembles the slightly larger Hairy Woodpecker. Downy Woodpeckers typically have small bills. Males have a red crown. The picture shows a female.
The Hairy Woodpecker picture highlights the comparatively larger bill. Otherwise, the black and white striped face, white belly and back feathers look very similar. Males also have a red crown.
Both species adapt to forests and residential areas alike. Look for them at the backyard feeder.
The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker might be the mostt far ranging of all the native sapsucker species. However, in Ohio they are listed as a species of
Males have a red crown and throat. Females only have a red crown. It’s very easy to identify in its East Coast territories.