Nuttall's woodpeckers in Oregon

Woodpeckers in Oregon: 14 Species That You Will See In Oregon

How many types of woodpeckers in Oregon are there?

Although this might seem like a straightforward question, we will still list out the most common woodpeckers in Oregon! Woodpeckers are famous for their hammering, long tongues, and hole drilling, oftentimes they prefer to hang out in dead and dying trees. Since Oregon has such a diverse landscape, the terrain makes it easy for woodpeckers to set up shop and call it home.

Just how common are woodpeckers in Oregon? It turns out that they are ubiquitous, although not so easy to spot. When I lived in Portland, OR, many years ago, a few woodpeckers would hang out on my fence in the backyard. Since woodpeckers tend to fly high and fast, they are often hard to photograph.

Some woodpeckers find a permanent home in Oregon, while other woodpeckers fly south for the winter. So you may see a woodpecker that is only in your area temporarily; on the other hand, it might be a native resident.

14 Woodpeckers in Oregon – Some are Permanent Residents and Some are Just Passing Through

#1   Acorn Woodpecker

Size

7.5 inches – 9 inches


Habitat

The Acorn woodpeckers live in oak and mixed oak-evergreen forests on slopes and mountains along the West Coast. However they are not too shy around humans as long as acorns are nearby.

Acorn Woodpecker in Oregon

Female Acorn woodpecker Color

The birds are primarily black with a black and red cap. Their cap starts black then turns red as it goes down the back of their head. Finally, the Acorn Woodpecker has a white face and a black patch around the bill.

Male Acorn woodpecker Color

The male Acorn Woodpecker is primarily black with a solid red cap. The Acorn woodpecker has a white face and a black patch around the bill.

Facts about the Acorn Woodpecker Check out more woodpecker facts here.

The Acorn woodpecker is unique because they store acorns in small tree holes that they drill. Often these acorn stashes, AKA granaries, are controlled by social groups. Sometimes a group of Acorn woodpeckers from a nearby region will swoop in and try to take over the acorn granaries. The same acorn granaries are often utilized with each new generation of Acorn woodpeckers.

#2  Black Backed Woodpecker – One of the Rare Woodpeckers in Oregon

Size

9 inches


Habitat

Inhabits dense coniferous forests, especially those that have been burned, swampy, clearcut, or taken over by swarms of beetles.

black backed woodpeckers in oregon - 14 woodpeckers in Oregon

Female woodpecker Color

The female Black-Backed Woodpecker has a jet black back and white on their breasts with fine black barring on the flanks.  The head is mostly all black with a single white “mustache” stripe and a small white mark behind the eye.  The male and female juveniles also have the yellow crown.

Male woodpecker Color

The male Black-Backed Woodpecker has a yellow crown with jet black backs and white on their breasts with fine black barring on the flanks.  The head is mostly solid black with a single white “mustache” stripe and a small white mark behind the eye. 

Facts about the Black-Backed Woodpecker

The Black-Backed Woodpecker in Oregon is rare, however, there are some sightings each year. They will travel miles to burn sites to feed on the larvae of wood-beetles that dwell in the conifers. The  Black-Backed Woodpecker is a very close relative of the American Three-toed Woodpecker and they also have three-toed feet. It is thought that their black sooty back feathers are there to camaflouge them when they are hanging out amongst the fire-damaged trees.

#3  Downy Woodpecker

Size

5.5 inches – 6.7 inches


Habitat

You’ll find Downy Woodpeckers in open woodlands, near deciduous trees, and bushes. They often build their nests around 12 feet off of the ground. Their nests are usually hidden by lichens and moss. They’re equally at ease in orchards, city parks, backyards, and vacant lots. Definitely just about anywhere humans venture so does this small woodpecker.

Downy woodpeckers in Oregon

Female Downy woodpecker Color

The Downy Woodpecker gives a checkerboard black-and-white appearance. The wing feathers and head have stripes.

Male Downy woodpecker Color

The males of the downy woodpecker have a little red spot on the back of their head. The Downy Woodpecker gives a checkerboard black-and-white appearance. The wing feathers and head have stripes.

Facts about the Downy Woodpecker

While the Downy woodpecker does look similar to the Hairy woodpecker, they are indeed different species.  Like many other woodpecker species, the Downy likes to feed on wood-boring beetles. They are also one of the common NY woodpeckers that you’ll see in the big Apple.

#4  Hairy Woodpecker – Is One of the Migrating Woodpeckers in Oregon

Size

9 inches – 11 inches


Habitat

Forest

Hairy Woodpecker is a migrating bird

Female Hairy woodpecker Color

The female Hairy woodpecker is black and white with no white spots on the back.

Male Hairy woodpecker Color

The male Hairy woodpecker is black and white with no white spots on the back, just like the female; however, the male also has a red patch on its head.

Facts about the Hairy Woodpecker

If you are trying to ID a Hairy woodpecker versus a Downy woodpecker, the best way is to look at the size and the bill length. Thus the Hairy woodpecker has a longer bill. You can find the Hairy Woodpecker in Canada, the United States (including Oregon), and the Gulf of Mexico. Furthermore, according to the National Audobon Society Field Guide for Birds, some northern Hairy woodpeckers migrate south for the winter. The Hairy woodpecker sleeps alone at night, the male and female each have their own sleeping hole.

#5  Lewis’s Woodpecker

Size

10 inches – 11 inches


Habitat

They live in the open woodlands, ponderosa pines, and grasslands.

Lewis's Woodpecker is a migrating bird - sitting in a tree

Female Lewis’  woodpecker Color

The female Lewis’ woodpecker has a metallic dark green back feather, gray collar, gray breast, and light red belly. Furthermore, their face is dark red with a greenish-black frame.

Male Lewis’  woodpecker Color

The male Lewis’ woodpecker looks identical to the female. Moreover, their face is dark red with a greenish-black frame. It also has a metallic dark green back feather, a gray collar, gray breast with a light red belly.

Facts about Lewis’s Woodpecker

Lewis’s woodpecker got its name from Meriwether Lewis, part of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Lewis’s woodpecker is unique among woodpeckers in that it rarely drills holes for boring insects. Instead, it plucks insects from the tree surface or, more frequently, captures them in mid-flight.

#6  Northern Flicker

Size

12 inches


Habitat

You will see them in parks, gardens, backyards, and open country areas.

Northern Flicker woodpeckers in Oregon

Female Northern Flicker Color

If you see a Northern Flicker woodpecker in Oregon, you will recognize it by its brownish color with black bars and spots. Keep in mind that the Western Northern Flickers will have salmon-pink underwing linings. In contrast, the Eastern Flickers have yellow wing underlinings.

Male Northern Flicker Color

The males also have a brownish color with black bars and spots and a red “mustache.” The western Northern Flickers will have salmon pink underwing linings.

Facts about the Northern Flicker Woodpecker

Unlike all of the other woodpeckers on our “Woodpeckers in Oregon” list, the Flickers are ground foragers, and their primary food source is ants.

#7  Nuttall’s Woodpecker

Size

6.3 inches – 7.1 inches


Habitat

California’s oak woodlands, as well as dwelling amongst the branches and twigs of oaks, willows, and cottonwoods.

Nuttall's woodpeckers in Oregon

Female Nuttall’s woodpecker Color

Nuttall’s Woodpeckers are cool-looking small with black-and-white stripes; both the male and female have white stripes across the cheeks as well. In contrast to the males, the females have a solid black head.

Male Nuttall’s woodpecker Color

The male Nuttall’s Woodpecker has black-and-white stripes; both the male and female have white lines across the cheeks.  In contrast, the males on the back of the head, the male have a red patch.

Facts about Nuttall’s Woodpecker

Even though the Nuttall’s Woodpecker resides in California as a permanent resident, avid birdwatchers now see them in Southern Oregon. In California, you can see them eating dragonfruit, berries, insects, nuts, and seeds. So keep a watch out for the Nuttall’s Woodpecker, and you may just get lucky if you are in Southern Oregon.

#8  Pileated Woodpecker

Size

17 inches


Habitat

Forests

Pileated woodpecker- you can spot one in Oregon

Female Pileated woodpecker Color

Black with white neck stripes, a red crest, and a black “mustache.”

Male Pileated woodpecker Color

Black with white neck stripes, a red crest, and a red “mustache.”

Facts about the Pileated Woodpecker

You will find the Pileated woodpeckers nesting in dead pines, dead larch, and dead fir trees. Furthermore, they are not migratory birds, which means if you see them in Oregon, they are their permanent home. More importantly, the one unique feature about the Pileated woodpecker is its enormous size. Despite their large size, they are hard to observe due to their elusive nature.

#9 Red-Breasted Sapsucker

Size

8 inches


Habitat

Forests and some backyards

Does the Red-breasted Sapsucker migrate? Yes

Female Red-Breasted Sapsucker Color

They have a large redhead with a white spot in front of the eye.  Their backs are black with a large white wing patch.

Male Red-Breasted Sapsucker Color

They have a large redhead with a white spot in front of the eye. Furthermore, their backs are black with a large white wing patch.

Facts about Red-Breasted Sapsucker

The Red-Breasted Sapsucker is a West Coast bird that loves coniferous forests in Oregon. It tends to prefer pine, hemlock, and Douglas fir. Still, it will stay near hardwood trees during winter when these aren’t available to them due to the arrival of too many birds from British Columbia or Southeast Alaska who take over the coniferous forests. They have a unique way of eating; they drill holes in trees, leave, and return later on when the sap begins to flow. Furthermore, the Red-Breasted Sapsuckers eat up the juice and any ants that might be nearby as well.

#10  Red-Naped Sapsucker

Size

8 inches


Habitat

They prefer forests and mountains, and just like many of the other woodpeckers on our list, they like to nest in dead trees. Furthermore, loggers and forest management officials often leave behind some dead trees for the woodpeckers to nest.

The Red-naped sapsucker migrates short distances

Female Red-Naped Sapsucker Color

There are white bars on its back and primarily black wings, and the wing patch is white. A female’s lower throat is red; her upper throat is white.

Male Red-Naped Sapsucker Color

Besides having a black back and white bars, it also has a white wing patch.  Males have a red throat patch.

Facts about Red-Naped Sapsucker

Like the other sapsuckers, they love drilling holes into trees to eat the sap and nearby ants. The sapsuckers will drill holes into healthy trees and kill a tree, whereas the woodpeckers focus on dead trees.

#11 Three-Toed Woodpecker

Size

8 1/2 inches


Habitat

Like many other woodpeckers, the Three-toed woodpecker likes to live in a forest with dead or dying trees. However, they are often found drilling holes in coniferous trees where fires have left a lot of standing stags.

Three-toed woodpecker Oregon

Female woodpecker Color

Black and white back feathers with a white stripe extending from below the eye to the ears.  Females do not have a yellow crown like the male, and instead, it has white streaks.

Male woodpecker Color

Like their female counterparts, males have a distinctive yellow crown bordered by white streaks.

Facts about The Three-toed woodpecker

The Three-toed woodpeckers are happy as long as they have bark beetles or moth larvae. More importantly, the Three-toed Woodpecker is very skilled at removing the bark from trees to get at the beetles. Not to mention that often if there is an outbreak of beetles somewhere, the Three-toed woodpecker will leave its comfort zone and move to a new region. Lastly, keep in mind that sometimes the Three-toed woodpecker is mistaken for the Black-backed Woodpecker.

The Three-toed Woodpecker is unique in that it is the only woodpecker species found in both Europe and  North America.

#12 Williamson’s Sapsucker

Size

8 1/2 inches


Habitat

Williamson’s Sapsucker prefers a dry, open coniferous forest in the mountains with aspens or larch often utilized for nesting trees.

male Williamson’s Sapsucker

Female woodpecker Color

The female is entirely different in appearance from the male. Her primary color is black, with a pale yellow breast, a brownish head with black streaks, and fine barring along her back, breast, and sides. The female Williamson’s Sapsucker does not have a red chin and yellow belly.

Male woodpecker Color

Mature males are iridescent black on their head, back, and tail. They also have a red chin and a bright yellow belly. Additionally, the white stripe lies behind each eye, and a lower white bar appears along each side of the head.

Facts about The Williamson’s Sapsucker

Unlike many of our other woodpecker in Oregon on this list, the male and female Williamson’s are entirely different looking. The Williamson’s Sapsuckers are very elusive birds, and avid bird watchers often consider themselves very lucky to spot this woodpecker.

#13  White-Headed Woodpecker

Size

7.9 inches


Habitat

This Oregon Woodpecker lives in conifer forests, especially the ponderosa pine.

White-headed Woodpecker

Female White-headed Woodpecker Color

The White-headed Woodpecker is easy to ID because they have a black body with a white head.

Male White-headed Woodpecker Color

The male has an identical-looking body as the female but has a red spot on the back of its head, which distinguishes them from the female.

Facts about The White-headed woodpecker

The white-headed woodpecker is a medium-sized woodpecker who lives in open ponderosa pine or mixed conifer forests. They mainly eat seeds, but they will also eat insects. The White-Headed Woodpecker usually excavates their nests in snags, but they can also use stumps, learning logs, or dead treetops. Furthermore they are on an Oregon conservation list after they began declining in numbers. The decline in this Oregon woodpecker is due to the loss of their favorite tree, the ponderosa pine. As a result, some shrubs and other trees begin to take over, making the white-headed woodpecker not want to nest in the area.

#14 Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker

Size

7.5 – 8.3 inches


Habitat

These birds prefer to nest in hardwood and conifers, like Doug firs, cedars, and pines. Sometimes they will pick trees affected by a fungus; this makes sapsucking easier. Sometimes, the sapsuckers drill holes, leaving the tree susceptible to fungal damage. Moreover, they typically use aspen, birch, maple, beech, and elm trees for this purpose.

Yellow-bellied sap sucker does migrate south for the winter

Female woodpecker Color

The female Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker will have black wings with white stripes and a red crown with a white throat.

Male woodpecker Color

The male Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker will have black wings with white stripes and a red crown with a red throat.

Facts about The Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker

Although the Yellow-bellied sapsucker is not common in Oregon, there have been recent sightings throughout Portland, Coos Bay, Eugene, Corvallis,  and Newport Beach. Although they are native to the NE area of the US, there are a few reports of the Yellow-bellied sapsucker all over Oregon every year. Undoubtedly, the more common Red-naped Sapsuckers is what more avid bird watches will see in Oregon.

What is the Largest Woodpecker in Oregon?

Hands down, it’s the Pileated Woodpecker. As the largest woodpecker in Oregon and everywhere in North America, the Pileated Woodpecker is almost the size of a crow.

The Pileated Woodpecker is a unique-looking bird with white facial stripes and a red cap. You can find them on the Pacific NW coast, Canada, and all over the East coast. Furthermore, the most common insect that they consume is carpenter ants and beetle larvae. However, you may also see them eating fruits, nuts, and berries. Undoubtedly the oldest known Pileated Woodpecker is 12 years old.

Woodpeckers in Portland, OR

There are six species of woodpeckers commonly found in the Portland metro area: Acorn Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Downy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Red-breasted Sapsucker,  and Hairy Woodpecker. However, there are many sightings of other woodpeckers within the Portland area:

  • Red-naped Sapsuckers are common breeders in eastern Oregon but sometimes turn up in Portland. Last year a person saw one near the Rose City Cemetary.
  • You can see Williamson’s Sapsucker in Mt. Tabor during some cold winter days.

Woodpeckers in Central Oregon

You will find all of the same birds on our “woodpeckers in Oregon” list turning up in Central, OR. In addition, bird watchers will spot the Three-toed Woodpecker in Central Oregon as well as the Williamson’s Sapsucker. Lastly this past December of 2021, some Black-backed woodpeckers were seen near the Multnomah Falls.

Woodpeckers in Southern Oregon

On occasion, Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker will make its way up to Southern Oregon. However, these are rare occurrences. Moreover in the Southern Oregon region, you will find any of the other 14 woodpeckers on our woodpeckers in Oregon list. Additionally, the best thing to do is take walks through forests and look up at the trees!

Final Thoughts for Woodpeckers in Oregon

Woodpeckers are a common sight in Oregon, especially if you live near woods or wooded areas. Most birds eat insects, sap, acorns, beetle larvae, berries, nuts, and seeds. However, the Northern Flicker is a ground foraging bird that feast on ants. Woodpeckers can come in many shapes and sizes depending on where you find them but most often stay within forested habitats (especially coniferous forests).  Additionally, some of the woodpeckers on our “woodpeckers in Oregon” list, like the Northern Flicker, are very common, and others, like the White-Headed Woodpecker, are more elusive. Either way, if you live in Oregon, you will run into one of the species of woodpeckers if you look up into the trees.