I recently posted about Northern Flickers which are an unusual kind of woodpecker. They forage on the ground a lot, which is not how I usually picture a woodpecker. Most woodpeckers cling to the sides of trees, banging their heads into the bark to find food (Northern Flickers do this too, of course). They make a lot of noise, and I hear them in the woods long before I see them. Since I added a suet feeder to my yard, particularly this one, I’ve had a lot more woodpeckers feeding in my garden. And yes, one even ate seeds out of my daughter’s hand! We were visiting a metropark where school children have been hand-feeding the songbirds for years on field trips. The Chickadees, Nuthatches, Tufted Titmouse (Titmice? Titmouses? I don’t know) will land on your hand for seeds, but I was surprised to see the Downy do it one day!
Downy woodpeckers and Hairy woodpeckers look a lot alike. I always had a hard time telling them apart until I learned to look at the beaks. The length of the beak on the Hairy Woodpecker (below) is about the same as the width of the bird’s head from front to back. On the Downy Woodpecker, the beak is much shorter than this distance. I know there are other ways to tell them apart, but this one works for me.
Another frequent visitor to my yard is the Red-bellied Woodpecker.
I know so many people who mistakenly call this guy a Red-headed Woodpecker, including myself for a long time. These do actually have a red belly, which you can barely see in this picture, but you don’t often notice it right away. I have only seen an actual Red-headed Woodpecker once. Here’s a picture of it–not a great photo, but I love it because it’s the only one I have of this guy.
The last woodpecker I’ve seen in my woods is the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. This is another bird on my list where I have only one photo and I don’t love it–hope to catch another soon.
One of my favorite, and most elusive, woodpeckers is the Pileated Woodpecker. I’ve never taken a photo of one (seen here), and have rarely even seen one. I remember as a kid one took to a tree in our backyard and stayed around for days. And I *think* I saw one last summer, but only briefly and I couldn’t get a picture at all. This one is on my list–I’ll be very happy when I finally get one!