9 Beautiful Types Of Woodpeckers In Wisconsin

  • By: CarlBroadbent
  • Time to read: 6 min.
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Woodpeckers are a popular species worldwide.

They’re easily identifiable because they produce a characteristic drumming sound by repetitively taping their beaks against trees.

Although their natural habitat is in the woodlands, it’s not uncommon to find them perched on trees near your home. 

If you live in Wisconsin, here are the different types of woodpeckers in Wisconsin you may come across and the best time to see them. 

Downy Woodpecker

You can spot the Downy Woodpecker throughout the year.

This species usually lives in woodlands and forested parks.

Downy Woodpeckers in Missouri
Downy Woodpecker

That said, you can attract them to your backyard by planting trees and setting up a bird feeder.

If you choose to install feeders, fill them with suet blocks and sunflower seeds, as these are the preferred foods of the Downy Woodpecker.

They occasionally drink out of hummingbird feeders.

Regarding size, the Downy Woodpecker is one of the smaller birds in the family:

  • Its wingspan ranges between 9.8 and 11.8 inches, while its body length falls between 5.5 inches and 6.7 inches.
  • Due to their small body size, this bird’s body usually doesn’t exceed one ounce.

Red-headed Woodpeckers

Wisconsin is the preferred breeding ground for the Red-headed Woodpecker, which is why this species is easily noticeable during the warmer months.

Red-Headed Woodpeckers in Missouri
Red-Headed Woodpecker

After breeding, they migrate south in winter to avoid the cold conditions. These birds are mostly found in the southern part of the state.

As the name suggests, this species has a red head with black and white markings on the plumage.

Their underbelly is mainly white, while the backs tend to be mostly blacks. The tails are short.

The Red-headed Woodpecker is a medium-sized member of the family:

  • It can weigh as much as 3.2 ounces and its body length ranges between 7.5 inches and 9.1 inches.
  • When fully stretched, the wins cover 16.5 inches.

Seeds, nuts and berries make up the majority of this species’ diets, although they occasionally feed on insects such as beetles, grasshoppers, honeybees, and midges.

Sometimes, they steal eggs from other birds’ nests. 

Unfortunately, the population of Red-headed Woodpeckers is dwindling due to the loss of habitat.

Another contributing factor is that the bird usually lays a maximum of five eggs. 

Red-bellied Woodpeckers

It’s easy to mistake a male Red-bellied Woodpecker for a Red-headed Woodpecker since both species have a red cap and a nape.

Red-Bellied Woodpeckers in Missouri
Red-Bellied Woodpecker

However, the former is smaller. Female Red-bellied Woodpeckers have a red nape but the crown is white.

An adult Red-bellied Woodpecker can weigh up to 3.2 ounces and has a wingspan of 15 inches. Its body length doesn’t exceed 9.4 inches.

Despite the name, the color on this species’ belly is hardly noticeable, as it is pale red. Their backs have black and white markings. 

If you live in wooded areas, you are more likely to spot a Red-bellied Woodpecker, either in its natural habitat or on a bird feeder, especially if it has suet cakes or sunflower seeds.


Listen Carefully: Because of their loud rolling sounds, you’re likely to hear this bird before seeing it. 


Pileated Woodpecker

The Pileated Woodpecker is the largest bird in the woodpecker family:

  • It has a wingspan ranging between 26 inches and 30 inches and male adults can weigh as much 12.3 ounces.
  • The average body length of this bird is 17 inches. 

Besides its size, other defining features of this species are the red crest on its head, a white line on the throat, a large bill, and a primarily black plumage. 

The favorite food of the Pileated Woodpecker are carpenter ants, which is why they frequent dead trees and fallen logs.

Pileated Woodpeckers in Missouri
Pileated Woodpecker

That said, this bird also feeds on insects such as beetle larvae, termites and fruits such as berries and dogwood.

Dead trees are also the preferred nesting site for the Pileated Woodpecker.

Notably, this species makes new nests every breeding season, leaving the older ones for other types of birds. 

You can spot the Pileated Woodpecker in its natural habitat throughout the year.

To bring it closer to your home, add sunflower seeds, mealworms, suet blocks, and peanuts to your bird feeder.

Hairy Woodpecker

The Hairy Woodpecker is a medium-sized species with an average body length of 8.6 inches and a maximum wingspan of 16.1 inches.

Regarding weight, the largest birds can weigh up to 3.4 ounces. 

Hairy Woodpeckers in Missouri
Hairy Woodpecker

This bird has a black and white pattern on its plumage, while its head consists of black and white stripes.

Like Downy Woodpeckers, this species is available across the state throughout the year.

If you want to spot this bird easily, visit:

  • forests
  • or woodlands with tall trees.

It’s almost impossible to see a Hairy Woodpecker in open park and other urbanized environments.

Like other woodpeckers, they like perching on the trunks and larger branches while eating insects.

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers

The distinctive features of the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker are the red markings on its cap and a yellow underbelly.

Male birds have red patches on their throats.

Yellow-Billed Sapsuckers in Missouri
Yellow-Billed Sapsucker

This species is common during the summer breeding season, but migrate south to escape the cold winter conditions.

Its preferred habitat consists of deciduous woodlands.

As a small member of the woodpecker family, the Yellow-belled Sapsucker has an average wingspan of 14.2 inches and weighs up to 1.9 ounces. 


Have You Noticed: When making holes, this species can create round and deep holes, or rectangular and shallow holes. The deeper holes are useful for probing for sap, while the shallow holes help in trapping insects. 


Northern Flicker

The plumage of the Northern Flicker is unique than other types of woodpeckers.

It is a blend that mainly consists of shades of grey and brown, with several tiny dark spots and markings on the underbelly.

Northern Flicker in Missouri
Northern Flicker

Interestingly, this species prefers walking on the ground when looking for food than boring trees. For this reason, they have a curved bill. 

Northern Flickers breed on the northern parts of the state before migrating south when winter arrives.

However, you can spot them throughout the year in the southern parts of Wisconsin.

Black-backed Woodpeckers

Black-backed Woodpeckers are a medium-sized species with an average weight of 2.6 ounces.

When fully stretched:

  • their wings cover 16.5 inches
  • their body length ranges between 7.1 and 9.2 inches.

They have a similar physique to Hairy Woodpeckers, except for an inky black plumage and white markings on the underbelly. 

Black-backed Woodpecker in Wisconsin
Black-backed Woodpecker

Burned forests are the preferred habitat for Black-backed Woodpeckers.

This is because burning trees offers foraging opportunities and have large populations of insects.

As such, this species is mostly found in northern parts of the state towards the Canadian border.

American Three-toed Woodpecker

This is one of the lesser-known types of woodpeckers.

Its body is mainly black, except for white markings on the underside.

American Three-toed Woodpecker in Wisconsin
American Three-toed Woodpecker

It also has a black stripe on its beak. Adult males have a yellow cap on the head.

Concerning size, this breed can measure up to 8.3 inches and has a wingspan of 14.9 inches. 

Wrapping Up

Woodpeckers might be destructive if you have wooden structures in your home, but their stunningly beautiful plumage more than makes up for it.

That said, you need to regulate the amount of food you put in your bird feeder so that they don’t cause extensive damage to your property.

If you want to spot several types of woodpeckers, it’s best to go birding during the summer.

As seen above most species like migrating south during winter. 

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