Woodpeckers in New York (With Pictures)

9 Woodpeckers in New York (With Pictures)

If you’re a fan of woodpeckers, there’s no better place to be than New York. New York State is home to a variety of woodpecker species, including but not limited to the black-backed woodpecker, the red-bellied woodpecker, and the yellow-bellied sapsucker.

Each of these woodpeckers has its own unique appearance and habits, making them fun to watch and study. In addition, you can find woodpeckers in a wide range of habitats, from forests to suburban backyards.

So whether you’re looking for an up-close encounter with one of these fascinating birds or just want to enjoy their antics from a distance, you’re sure to find woodpeckers in New York.

What Kind of Woodpeckers are in New York?

These are the 9 woodpeckers in New York that you will see at various times of the year.

  1. American Three-Toed Woodpecker
  2. Black-Backed Woodpecker
  3. Downy Woodpecker
  4. Hairy Woodpecker
  5. Northern Flickers (Yellow-shafted Flicker)
  6. Pileated Woodpecker
  7. Red-Bellied Woodpecker
  8. Red-Headed Woodpecker
  9. Yellow-bellied Woodpecker

One of the NY woodpeckers: the Red-Bellied Woodpecker: Video Shot in Brooklyn


American Three-Toed Woodpeckers (Picoides tridactylus)

ORDER: Piciformes FAMILY: Picidae

American Three Toed woodpecker in New York
American Three-Toed Woodpecker in Brooklyn, NY

Three-toed woodpeckers are an oddity among woodpeckers. For one thing, they only have three toes. Three-toed woodpeckers also range from Alaska to New York, making them a widespread woodpecker species in North America. 

The males are unique in that they have a yellow patch on their crown. But despite their unusual habits and appearance, three-toed woodpeckers are an important part of North American ecosystems. Although the American Three-Toed Woodpecker bird does not tend to migrate you can see a full list of woodpeckers that migrate here.

Size

8 1/2 inches

Wingspan

14.6 inches – 15.3 inches

Female woodpecker Color

All black and white with black barring on their backs.

Male woodpecker Color

Black and white with black barring on their backs and a yellow crown.

Habitat

How To Attract The American Three-Toed Woodpecker To Your Backyard?

They live in the forests among the conifers like spruce, fir, and hemlock trees, so they are not likely to hang out in backyards. If you have have some conifers in your yard, you can place a bird house high up on one of the trees.

Do They Migrate?

No, they usually find a home and stay put, rarely migrating out of their region.

Since they eat bark beetles in the burned-out coniferous forests, it is not easy to attract them to your backyard.


Black-backed Woodpeckers (Picoides arcticus)

ORDER: Piciformes FAMILY: Picidae

Black backed woodpecker in NY
Black-backed woodpecker in NY

Black-backed Woodpeckers are robin-sized woodpeckers and the males also have a yellow crown like the three-toed woodpecker. They inhabit burned-over coniferous forests in New York and usually build their nests close to the ground.

They are not one of the common woodpeckers in the metropolitan area, however, you will find them in various forests upstate.

Black-backed Woodpeckers are known to excavate their own nesting cavities as well as using those excavated by other birds. These woodpeckers primarily eat insects, particularly beetles that they find under the bark of dead trees.

The black-backed Woodpeckers are fun to watch as they forage for beetles on trunks and large branches of trees. Sometimes they will even hang upside down! Since they are shy birds, if you see one it is a rare treat.

Size

9 inches

Wingspan

14.6 inches – 15.3 inches

Female woodpecker Color

The female has a solid black crown.

Male woodpecker Color

The male will have a yellow crown, similar to the American Three-toed woodpecker.

How To Attract The Black-Backed Woodpecker To Your Backyard?

Habitat

Coniferous wooded areas, specifically ones that are burned out, logged, or swampy.

Do They Migrate?

They tend to stay in one area.

You may occasionally see one flying by or landing for a break, however, they usually stay close to their nest and food source.


Downy Woodpeckers (Picoides pubescens)

ORDER: Piciformes FAMILY: Picidae

Downy woodpecker in NY

Downy woodpeckers are small, sparrow-sized birds that are black and white. Furthermore, you can find them all over the United States, except for the southwest.

Downy woodpeckers are very common in New York, which is why they are on our list of NYC birds! In addition, you can find them hanging out in woods, parks, and gardens. You will see them around backyard bird feeders. More importantly for ID, the Males have a small red patch on their nape.

Downy woodpeckers are very interesting birds because in the winter they will frequently join up with other species to form a flock. Members of this mixed-species flock will look after each other and alert the group to any predators.

Downy woodpeckers use their bills to tap on trees, this helps them to find food and to build nests. In fact, the Downy woodpeckers are famous for their loud drumming and quiet but high-pitched pik. When you hear a Downy woodpecker, you will know it!

Size

6 inches

Wingspan

 9.8 inches – 11.8 inches

Female woodpecker Color

Black and white striped head, with a black and white body.

Male woodpecker Color

Black and white striped head, with a black and white body. On the back of the males’ heads is a red patch.

How To Attract Downy Woodpeckers To Your Backyard?

They like suet feeders since part of their diet consists of plants, berries, acorns, and grains. However, the majority of their diet consists of eating insects.

Habitat

Downy woodpeckers are very adaptable birds. Actually, they love trees and you can find them anywhere from deciduous forests to brushy or weedy edges (or even orchards!). Their versatility makes them an excellent choice for anyone who wants to observe them.

Do They Migrate?

Yes


Hairy Woodpeckers – Picoides villosus

ORDER: Piciformes FAMILY: Picidae

Hairy woodpecker in NY
Hairy Woodpecker – one of the common woodpeckers in New York

The Hairy Woodpecker is a cute bird that has an interesting mix of black and white feathers however they have an unspotted white back. It’s also one of the popular woodpeckers in Portland OR. The wings, lower backside as well as tail have all pigmented this way while its head features wide black and white stripes on either side.

Furthermore, these birds closely resemble Downy woodpeckers but can be distinguished by size, the long bill, and the unspotted white back.

The Hairy woodpecker feeds on many types of destructive insects. So if a fruit tree farm can attract some Hairy woodpeckers to their area, their trees will see fewer insect issues. For this reason, they are a form of natural pest management!

Size

9 inches

Wingspan

 13.0 inches – 16.1 inches

Female woodpecker Color

Black and white with an unspotted white back.

Male woodpecker Color

Black and white with an unspotted white back and a red spot on the back of their head.

How To Attract Hairy Woodpeckers To Your Backyard?

They love suet, so placing a few suet feeders around the yard may attract a Hairy woodpecker.

Habitat

Forests, trees, and parks.

Do They Migrate?

Although they do migrate somewhat, many will stay in one area and become permanent residents.


Northern Flickers – (Colaptes auratus) – Another of the More Common Woodpeckers in New York Species

ORDER: Piciformes FAMILY: Picidae

Northern Flicker - a NY Woodpecker
Northern Flickers like to forage on the ground

A unique large bird with a brown back and spotted chest, if you see a Northern Flicker, you can usually ID it right away! Not your usual woodpecker, you will likely find these guys on the ground rather than in trees.

They like to eat ants and other small insects that they find on the ground. Moreover, you can often see them drumming their bill on the ground to announce their presence and to attract a mate.

Their habitat is pretty much anywhere there are trees, including parks, backyards, and forests.

Size

12 inches

Wingspan

16.5 inches – 20.1 inches

Female woodpecker Color

They appear brown at first glance, but you’ll see the spotted chest and white rump upon closer observation. In short the Easter Flickers are called Yellow Shafted Flickers to have a red patch on their nape and yellow wing linings.

Male woodpecker Color

Same as female, except the male has a black mustache.

How To Attract Northern FLickers To Your Backyard?

You can attract these woodpeckers in New York to your backyard by keeping a birdbath or fruit tree in your yard. Not only do they eat ants, but they also enjoy the seeds from fruit trees. Fruit trees can also attract ants, which will then in turn attract Northern Flickers.

Habitat

They love large green fields since they forage in grassy areas for ants and beetle larvae.

Do They Migrate?

The northernmost birds do migrate, however many in the southern states stay put. As woodpeckers in New York go, many of the Northern Flickers we see here are migrating through the NYC area from up north.


Pileated Woodpeckers – (Dryocopus pileatus)

ORDER: Piciformes FAMILY: Picidae

Pileated Woodpecker in upstate NY
Pileated Woodpeckers are common in upstate NY

The Pileated Woodpecker is the only species in its genus that you can find across North America. More importantly, it has a red-crested head and white stripes across its face, making it difficult to mistake this bird for any other creature.  

Furthermore, New Yorkers are particularly lucky, as these birds as you will commonly see upstate, although you will not usually find them in NYC or Long Island. Furthermore, you can easily identify Pileated Woodpeckers by their red-crested head and white stripes across their face.

They are one of the larger woodpeckers in New York, as you can see by their wingspan below (up to 29.5 inches). But don’t let their striking appearance and large size fool you, these birds are actually quite shy and hard to spot.

Size

17 inches

Wingspan

26.0 inches – 29.5 inches

Female woodpecker Color

Black with white neck stripes and white wing linings, and a pronounced red crest. The females have a black mustache.

Male woodpecker Color

Black with white neck stripes and white wing linings, and a pronounced red crest. In contrast, the males have a red mustache.

How To Attract These Woodpeckers in New York (Pileated Woodpecker) To Your Backyard?

If you have a dead tree or a stump in your yard you can leave it, in the hopes of attracting a Pileated woodpecker. Keep in mind that they are elusive birds despite their large size and you do not usually see them in backyards. Moreover, if you happen to have one that visits your backyard, send us an email, we would love to hear about it.

Habitat

Forests and borders where forests are coming into contact with civilization. Lately, they have been turning up in more and more suburban areas.

Do They Migrate?

No, they do not migrate. They will mate for life and stay in one territory.


Red-Bellied Woodpecker – (Melanerpes carolinus) – One of the Most Common Woodpeckers in New York

ORDER: Piciformes FAMILY: Picidae

Red-bellied woodpecker Brooklyn, NY

Although they are commonly seen all over the NYC area, the Red-Bellied woodpecker may just be one of the most common woodpeckers in New York.

The Red-Bellied woodpecker in NY is one of the beneficial species of birds that is consuming large amounts of wood-boring beetles. Furthermore, they also feed on acorns, ants, fruits, and other insects.

Size

10 inches

Wingspan

13 inches – 16.5 inches

Female woodpecker Color

Firstly from above, they appear to be black and white striped on their back. However, they do have a reddish patch on their lower abdomen but it is not easily visible. Furthermore, the female has a red nape.

Male woodpecker Color

From above they appear to be black and white striped on their back. However, they do have a reddish patch on their lower abdomen but it is not easily visible. In contrast, the male has a red nape as well as a red crown.

How To Attract The Red-Bellied woodpecker To Your Backyard?

Add a bird feeder with suet and seeds, as well as a birdbath. Nevertheless, you will more than likely attract some of these common NY woodpeckers.

Habitat

Open woodlands, parks, and yards.

Do They Migrate?

Yes


Red-Headed Woodpecker – (Melanerpes erythrocephalus)

ORDER: Piciformes FAMILY: Picidae

Red-headed woodpecker in NY
Red-headed woodpecker – common in NY

Sometimes people think that the Red-Bellied woodpecker is the Red-Headed woodpecker because you will a redhead on both. However, the Red-Headed woodpecker is different because its whole head is red, not just the nape like the Red-Bellied.

The Red-Headed woodpecker likes to store acorns in caches, inside of tree holes. Hence they have a varied diet they do not stick to one type of food.

Red Headed Woodpeckers have been known to breed in some interesting places including deciduous woodlands with oak or beech, groves of dead or dying trees, river bottoms, burned areas, recent clearings, beaver swamps, orchards, parks, farmland, grasslands with scattered trees, forest edges, and roadsides.

They are also nomads, unlike the Pileated woodpeckers who stay in one area their whole life. Hence sometimes they will not return to the same area as the previous year.

The Red-headed Woodpecker is fairly common in New York. It breeds in both old-growth and second-growth forests throughout the state.

More importantly in the winter, you can see one in open woods and sometimes at backyard suet feeders. So keep your eyes peeled for these birds because they are fascinating creatures that breed in very interesting places.

Size

10 inches

Wingspan

14 inches – 16.5 inches

Female woodpecker Color

They have a black back, white wing patches, and a large red head, with a chisel-like beak. Furthermore the female and male are identical.

Male woodpecker Color

They have a black back, white wing patches, and a large red head, with a chisel-like beak. The female and male are identical.

How To Attract The Red-Headed Woodpecker To Your Backyard?

Since they like to eat acorns, fruits, seeds, nuts, corn, a wide range of insects, and the eggs of other birds, it’s easy to attract them. You just put out a variety of foods in your bird feeder and one of these Red-Headed woodpeckers might just pay you a surprise visit.

Habitat

Woods, swamps, grasslands, forests, burn areas, and many other places. Anyhow they vary each year, where they like to nest.

Do They Migrate?

Yes


Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker – (Sphyrapicus varius)

ORDER: Piciformes FAMILY: Picidae

Yellow-bellied sapsucker - woodpeckers in New York
The Yellow-bellied sapsucker has a very light-colored yellow belly

Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers are known as one of the quietest woodpecker species. They feed at sap wells and create neat rows of shallow holes they drill in tree bark.

As a result, these NY woodpeckers lap up the sugary sap along with any insects that may get caught there. Sapsuckers are an important part of the forest ecosystem because they eat destructive insects and help feed many other animals, birds, and insects.

They are fairly small NY woodpeckers with stout straight bills, the feathers on the back of their head form a peak or a ridge.

More importantly, in New York, they are most often seen in the Adirondacks and Catskills. However, you will see these NY woodpeckers in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens. Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers generally mate for life and both parents help raise their young.

Size

8 1/2 inches

Wingspan

13.4 inches – 15.8 inches

Female woodpecker Color

Black and white patterns on their back with yellowish-white bellies. In contrast, the females have a red crown and white throat.

Male woodpecker Color

Black and white patterns on their back with yellowish-white bellies. In contrast, the males have red crowns and red throats.

How To Attract The Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers To Your Backyard?

They are known to visit bird feeders for the occasional suet snack.

Habitat

They can live everywhere from forests to parks to yards.

Do They Migrate?

Yes


Here Are Some Common Questions About Woodpeckers in New York

Are there woodpeckers in New York State?

Firstly, New York is known for its diversity, and that extends to its avian population as well. Secondly, the state is home to many species of birds, including woodpeckers.

In fact, several woodpecker species can be found in New York, including the red-bellied woodpecker, the downy woodpecker, the Northern flickers, the black-backed, the American three-toed, the red-headed woodpecker, pileated woodpecker, the yellow-bellied sapsucker and the hairy woodpecker.

Woodpeckers are also known for their characteristic habitat, which typically includes wooded areas with plenty of trees for them to peck. So if you’re ever in New York and you see a woodpecker, don’t be surprised – they’re just as much a part of the state’s bird population as pigeons and sparrows.

What’s the biggest woodpecker in New York State?

The most sizeable woodpecker in New York State is the Pileated Woodpecker. Their size is approximately 17 inches, with a weight of between 8.8-12.3 oz and finally, they have a wingspan of 26.0-29.5 inches. However you will mainly find them residing in upstate NY, it is not common for them to be seen in NYC or Long Island.

Are woodpeckers protected in NYS?

All woodpeckers are what’s called “protected” under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. What this means is that any migratory bird is allowed to build a nest or seek refuge within trees, buildings, or houses. Whether they are public or private property does not matter.

If the woodpecker is doing significant damage to your property then you may want to apply for a permit through the federal government called the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service – Migratory Bird Depredation Permit. The permit will allow you to take drastic measures in removing the woodpeckers. However, you cannot kill a woodpecker without a permit.

Are there red-headed woodpeckers in NY?

Yes, firstly the Red-Bellied woodpeckers, the Red-Headed Woodpeckers, the Yellow-Bellied Sap Sucker, Downy Woodpecker (has a red patch), the Hairy Woodpecker (has a red patch), and the Pileated Woodpecker; all have red heads. Furthermore, these are some of the types of woodpeckers in NY.

woodpeckers in New York - Red-bellied woodpecker - a red headed woodpecker in NY

Are there woodpeckers in Queens NY?

The types of woodpeckers in Queens NY include the red-bellied woodpeckers, the Downy woodpecker, the Northern flickers, the Black-Backed, the American Three-Toed, and the Red-Headed Woodpecker, the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker and the Hairy Woodpecker. Since Queens has plenty of parks like Forest park and open grassy cemeteries, there are plenty of places for woodpeckers to forage for a meal.

Are there woodpeckers on Long Island?

Yes, to note, there are 5 species of woodpeckers that you can find nesting on Long Island which include: the Red-bellied woodpecker, the Downy woodpecker, Hairy woodpecker, the Northern flickers, and the Yellow-Bellied.

Some people report random sightings of the Pileated woodpecker, however, they must just be passing through. Although the Pileated has never been seen nesting on Long Island.

Final Thoughts for – Woodpeckers in New York

If you’re a fan of woodpeckers, there’s no better place to be than New York. New York state is home to various types of woodpecker species, including the black-backed woodpecker, the red-bellied woodpecker, the yellow-bellied sapsucker and so many more.

While all these birds are pretty cool in their own right, our favorite has got to be the pileated woodpecker. These guys are massive – about 17 inches long – and have a red mohawk that is pronounced on the top of their heads.

They also have some impressive hunting skills; they can peck through hardwood trees like nobody’s business! If you want to see one of these amazing creatures up close, your best bet is to head upstate. Although they’re not commonly seen in NYC or on Long Island.

We hope you enjoyed reading about woodpeckers in New York. These fascinating birds are just one of the many reasons why we love this state so much. Furthermore, be sure to keep an eye out for the next time you’re out exploring the great outdoors!


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