7 Types of Woodpeckers in Missouri

  • By: CarlBroadbent
  • Time to read: 6 min.
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If you’re keen on birds, you probably know that there are over 200 different species of woodpeckers worldwide, inhabiting inside cavities and holes in trees that they make themselves.

How many species of woodpeckers are in Missouri? There are seven types of woodpeckers in Missouri.  These birds mostly live in mature forests with upright dead trees or branches on older trees. Lately, these species have adapted to habitats located in urban centers and their outskirts with mature trees. 

Despite being a delight to watch as they feed and go about with other activities, woodpeckers can cause significant damage to your property.

Most people who experience this problem usually live near wooded areas filled with matured hardwood trees.

As more people construct their houses and businesses in such areas, the challenge becomes more extensive.


That Said: Here are the seven types of woodpeckers found in Missouri.


Red-Bellied Woodpeckers

Are Red-bellied woodpeckers in Missouri?

You’ll spot Red-bellied woodpeckers across Missouri all year round.

Red-Bellied Woodpeckers in Missouri
Red-Bellied Woodpecker

However, don’t let the name misguide you – although the name suggests that the belly of this bird is red, it’s not.

Instead, it has a white-feathered underbelly and red spot on the upper side of its head. 

Red-bellied woodpeckers are medium-sized birds:

  • with an average length of 9.4 inches
  • a weight ranging between 2.0 and 3.2 ounces
  • and a wingspan that doesn’t exceed 16.5 inches

You can easily spot this bird in Missouri woodlands throughout the year. 

If you want to attract this species to your garden, use:

  • suet blocks
  • sunflower seeds
  • different types of nuts

They also feed on insects that nest in hollows found in dead trees.

Suppose you can’t lure them towards you; you can find red-bellied woodpeckers by learning their characteristic loud and rolling sounds.

They also tend to be most active during summer and spring.

Downy Woodpeckers

Downy woodpeckers are smaller than most of the other species in the family.

Their body length ranges between 5.5 and 6.7 inches, the average wingspan doesn’t exceed 12 inches, and they weigh a little below one ounce on average. 

Downy Woodpeckers in Missouri
Downy Woodpecker

You can find the Downy woodpecker at any time of the year, mostly in sparse forests and airy woodlands.

They have a preference for deciduous trees, which explains why they’re easily identifiable during fall. That said, you can also spot them in residential properties.

Because of their size, these birds consume foods that are inaccessible to the larger species.

These include insects that live on the stems of shrubs and herbs. It’s not strange to see them feeding on larvae and smaller insects. 


Notably: It’s hard for someone who’s not keen to tell the difference between Hairy woodpeckers and Downy woodpeckers. The two have black and white feathers, although the former has a slightly bigger body.


Hairy Woodpecker

Like the Downy woodpecker, the Hairy woodpecker has a tiny body than other types.

It weighs just above three ounces, has a body length of 10 inches, and its wings can measure up to 16 inches when fully stretched. 

Hairy Woodpeckers in Missouri
Hairy Woodpecker

The most significant difference between the Hairy woodpecker and its Downy counterpart lies in the length of the beak.

Hairy woodpeckers have longer beaks that allow them to create deeper holes on wooden stems. 

When pecking wood, this species produces a vigorous tapping sound that is easily heard from a distance.

Some bird-watchers claim to have seen the Hairy woodpeckers tapping into sugarcane to suck the sweet juices that it produces. 

Red-Headed Woodpeckers

These are perhaps the most easily identifiable type of woodpeckers.

It’s found throughout the year, and it has a distinctive bright redhead, black and white wings, and the rest of the body is snow-colored.

Red-Headed Woodpeckers in Missouri
Red-Headed Woodpecker

However, it’s worth noting that younger birds don’t have these characteristics – instead, they are primarily gray, with white patches on the wings. 

Red-headed woodpeckers:

  • are medium-sized with an average wingspan of 16.5 inches
  • their weight doesn’t exceed 3.2 ounces
  • their body length ranges from 7.5 to 9.1 inches among adult birds

Concerning habitat, these species prefer open woods, pine savanna, and swamps. The scarcity of these preferred environments has hurt their population in recent years. 

Other peculiarities of the red-headed woodpecker include storing surplus food like seeds and nuts in tree cracks and hollows.

They also hunt for flying insects. 

Pileated Woodpecker

The Pileated Woodpecker is among the largest forest birds in America.

Adult birds are as big as crows with a remarkable wingspan of almost 30 inches and a body length of 20 inches.

Pileated Woodpeckers in Missouri
Pileated Woodpecker

It’s also heavy, as it weighs up to 12.3 ounces when fully grown.

Regarding appearance, this bird has primarily black plumage.

Its most distinguishing features include:

  • a red crest
  • a long beak
  • a few white stripes running down its neck 

The preferred prey for this species is carpenter ants.

The simplest way to identify the presence of Pileated woodpeckers is a trail of rectangular holes on a trunk, which no other type of this bird leaves.

Also, this species drills holes so big that they can provide a habitat for bats, ducks, owls, pine martens, and swifts. 

Due to their excellent adaptability to different habitats, this species is prevalent in most state regions. Surprisingly, they are timid, despite their huge bodies. 

The easiest way to spot a Pileated Woodpecker is by touring a forest with many dead trees and downed logs.


Pay Attention: You’ll instantly notice their loud drumming, sharp and whinny-like sounds.


Yellow-Billed Sapsucker

The Yellow-billed Sapsucker is renowned for creating shallow holes on tree barks as it looks to suck the sap and feed on insects trapped by it.

Yellow-Billed Sapsuckers in Missouri
Yellow-Billed Sapsucker

For this reason, this species has a brush-tipped tongue. 

Unlike other types, it’s primarily available in the central and southern regions of the states. They only migrate northwards during the breeding season.

The plumage of a Yellow-billed Sapsucker mainly consists of black and white stripes.

On the underside, you’ll find a fairly white streak which is sometimes yellow. The male birds have a red throat and spend most of their time feeding in the nests. 

Concerning size:

  • an adult sapsucker has a wingspan of 15 inches
  • an average weight that falls slightly below two ounces
  • and a body length ranging from 7.1 to 8.7 inches

Northern Flicker

Last on the list is the Northern Flicker, a large woodpecker that stretches its wings over a span of 20 inches.

With a brown plumage consisting of black spots, it’s one of the most visually appealing species. 

Northern Flicker in Missouri
Northern Flicker

Interestingly, you’re likely to spot these birds walking, as they like feeding on ants and beetles. When they notice humans, they fly away and perch on branches. 

Besides their attractive plumage, Northern Flickers also produce distinct and sharp sounds. These serve as either a medium of communication or marking their territory.

Wrapping Up

Due to their diversity, it’s the dream of every bird-watcher to get a glimpse of the different types of woodpeckers in Missouri.

The challenge, however, lies in spotting them as they roam in their natural habitat.

Luckily, you can attract them by offering their preferred food, placing dead trees in your backyard, and frequently growing plants that bear fruits. 

That said, you need to keep an eye on the number of woodpeckers that frequent your property. Remember that too many of them can cause damage to your wooden structures. 

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