Wonderful Woodpeckers

One group of birds I find intriguing are woodpeckers. Since our property is all wooded, and thousands of acres of additional forest surround us, there is definitely no shortage of prime habitat for the few species of woodpeckers living in our area.

The most common species we see clinging to trees and often our suet and seed feeders–and the most common in Ohio–is the small black and white downy woodpecker. Males and females look alike except the males have a bit of red on the back of their heads. The very similar looking hairy woodpecker is approximately 2″ to 3″ larger but not seen nearly as often.

My favorite woodpecker species and a frequent visitor to our property is the pileated woodpecker. These spectacular birds are about the size of a crow, approx. 16″ to 19″ in length. Their coloring is black and white with a prominent red crest. They posses a loud, unmistakable flicker-like call. On occasion we’ll get one hanging from a suet feeder. These guys are so big it looks like they are going to pull the feeder down. We never know when one of these birds will visit, but it’s always a real treat when they do. If you hear a loud hammering echo originating from across the forest, it is most likely coming from a pileated woodpecker.

Other woodpeckers less frequently seen on our property include the red-headed and red-bellied woodpeckers and the yellow-bellied sapsucker. Sapsuckers are the only migratory species of woodpecker and pass through the area in spring. The tell-tell sign of a sapsucker is several rows of holes drilled in a straight line across a tree’s trunk.


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