Types of Woodpeckers in New York (Complete Guide)

Mountains, rivers, lakes, forests, swamps, and plains all describe the natural habitat of New York State. This is an ideal location for a variety of woodpecker species to call home. All woodpeckers on this list are permanent residents year-round, with some being more difficult to spot than others. This means you have countless opportunities to spot and track different woodpecker species. However, before you suit up for a day or weekend of bird watching, understand the question, what woodpeckers can be found in New York?

Eleven woodpecker species can be spotted in the state of New York. These include the American Three-toed Woodpecker, Black-backed Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Lewis’s Woodpecker, the Northern Flicker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Red-headed Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Williamson’s Sapsucker, and the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Each of these woodpecker species has different prey, hunting habits, and comfortable environments.

To learn more about the eleven woodpecker species in New York, keep reading!

Downy Woodpecker

Dryobates pubescens

Downy woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Downy woodpecker hanging from birdfeeder

Downy Woodpecker on bird feeder

Downy woodpecker perched on tree

Downy Woodpecker perched on a tree

Downy woodpecker at nest

Downy Woodpecker at nest

Downy woodpecker bringing food to nest

Downy Woodpecker bringing food back to nest

Length:

14.5cm to 17cm

Wingspan:

25cm to 30cm

Weight:

21g to 28g

Seen :

All year

Downy Woodpecker

The year-round Downy Woodpecker is the smallest New York woodpecker species and the smallest in North America. While you may think you’re seeing a Hairy Woodpecker at feeders, it is usually the Downy species that frequent this location.

Visually identified by a black and white pattern, and a white patch on their back, the Downy Woodpecker males have a red patch on their heads. In addition to backyard feeders, this bird nests in dead tree cavities and hunts insects from the same location. They also consume nuts, grains, acorns, and berries.

Northern Flicker

Colaptes auratus

Northern flicker

Northern Flicker

Northern flicker calling

Northern Flicker calling

Northern flicker on feeder

Northern Flicker on suet feeder

Northern flicker feeding young

Northern Flicker feeding young

Northern flicker close up

Close up of a Northern Flicker

Length:

28cm to 31cm

Wingspan:

50cm to 55cm

Weight:

120g

Seen :

All year round

Northern Flicker

Located in the southern regions of New York State, the Northern Flicker breeds in the northern part of the state before migrating south. That means you can view them year-round, just in various parts of the state.

Featuring a flash of yellow on their tails and wings, Northern Flickers can best be identified by their red napes on the neck and white patches on their rumps. With colorful plumage, these large brown woodpeckers have many contrasting colors.

Their diet consists of beetles and ants, but they have been known to eat seeds and fruits, which is why you may see them on the ground digging these plant materials up.

Red-headed Woodpecker

Melanerpes erythrocephalus

Red headed woodpecker

Red-headed Woodpecker

Red headed woodpecker in flight

Red-headed Woodpecker in flight

Red headed woodpecker at nest

Red-headed Woodpecker at nest

Red headed woodpecker 1

Red-headed Woodpecker perched

Pair of red headed woodpeckers

A pair of Red-headed Woodpeckers

Length:

19.4cm to 23.5cm

Wingspan:

33cm to 37cm

Weight:

56g to 91g

Seen :

All year

Red-headed Woodpecker

While the Red-headed woodpecker can be found year-round in New York State, the best time to see them is in the summer hanging around forests.

This species is true to its name with a bright red head, simple black and white markings, white undersides, and black bands on their wings. They also feature short tails and powerful spike bills.

For lunch, they typically catch insects like grasshoppers, honeybees, and beetles midflight or in trees. However, this is only one-third of their diet. The other two-thirds include plants like berries, nuts, and seeds.

Pileated Woodpecker

Dryocopus pileatus

Pileated woodpecker close up

Close up of a Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated woodpecker in flight

Pileated Woodpecker in flight

Pileated woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Pair of pileated woodpeckers

A pair of Pileated Woodpeckers

Pileated woodpecker eating ants

Pileated Woodpecker eating ants

Length:

40cm to 49cm

Wingspan:

66cm to 75cm

Weight:

250g to 350g

Seen :

All year

Pileated Woodpecker

As the largest woodpecker in New York, the Pileated Woodpecker is a year-round resident but can mostly be spotted in the southern forests and hills of the state during the summer.

Featuring a flaming-red triangular head crest, black and white stripes on their underside, and the males have a red stripe on their cheek, the Pileated Woodpecker is a stunning sight to see.

You can find them dining on carpenter ants from fallen logs and dead trees, as well as termites, larvae, nuts, and fruit.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Melanerpes carolinus

Red bellied woodpecker feeding

Red-bellied Woodpecker feeding

Red bellied woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Pair of red bellied woodpeckers

A pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers

Red bellied woodpecker perched on branch

Red-bellied Woodpecker perched on a branch

Length:

23cm to 27cm

Wingspan:

33cm to 42cm

Weight:

56g to 91g

Seen :

All year

Red-bellied Woodpecker

The Red-bellied Woodpecker can be spotted year-round but are mostly observed in the very eastern and western portions of the state.

This species is often mistaken for Red-headed Woodpeckers because they feature red caps but are significantly smaller than their Red-headed cousin. Females can be identified by the red nape without red on the crown. Both sexes feature white and black markings across their backs.

You can find these woodpeckers at bird feeders and in wooded areas where they dine on nuts, fruit, seeds from grass, spiders, and insects.

Hairy Woodpecker

Dryobates villosus

Hairy woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy woodpecker on branch

Hairy Woodpecker perched on a branch

Female hairy woodpecker on branch

A female Hairy Woodpecker

Female hairy woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker on a tree

Length:

25cm to 33cm

Wingspan:

38cm

Weight:

43g to 99g

Seen :

All year

Hairy Woodpecker

The Hairy Woodpecker is a year-round bird in New York that is mostly found in woodland areas. Featuring a large patch on their back and a black and white pattern across the body, the Hairy Woodpecker is aesthetically similar to the Downy Woodpecker, only larger. Since they coexist in the same habitat, the two birds can be difficult to tell apart.

Hairy Woodpeckers mostly eat insects like bark beetles, ants, and larvae but also consume millipedes, pupae, spiders, bees, and caterpillars.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Sphyrapicus varius

Yellow bellied sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Female yellow bellied sapsucker

A female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow bellied sapsucker close up

Close up of a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow bellied sapsucker in flight

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker in flight

Juvenile yellow bellied sapsucker

A juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Length:

21cm to 22cm

Wingspan:

34cm to 40cm

Weight:

43g to 55g

Seen :

All year round

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker breeds in New York State and can be observed year-round. At the size of a robin, this woodpecker species features a red forehead and a red throat with a mostly black body. These woodpeckers chisel holes in trees then stick out their tongues to consume sap.

You will know a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker has been at a tree because they make horizontal rows on hickory, sugar or red maple, yellow birch, and young paper birch trees. They most commonly live and breed in deciduous forests where they feed.

Black-backed Woodpecker

Picoides arcticus

Black backed woodpecker

Black-backed Woodpecker

Black backed woodpecker female

A female Black-backed Woodpecker

Black backed woodpecker at nest

Black-backed Woodpecker at nest

Length:

23cm

Wingspan:

40cm to 42cm

Weight:

61g to 88g

Seen :

All year, but uncommon

Black-backed Woodpecker

Although uncommon to spot, they call New York State home year-round. Since they are small birds with a black back, they can be difficult to find. On their undercarriage, they feature black and white stripes with a mostly white belly. Adult males have a yellow cap.

This woodpecker species specializes in finding and consuming wood-boring beetle larvae, especially in burned forests. They find their food by pulling the bark from dead trees.

American Three-toed Woodpecker

Picoides dorsalis

American three toed woodpecker

American Three-toed Woodpecker

American three toed woodpecker male excavating nest

American Three-toed Woodpecker male excavating nest

American three toed woodpecker searching for bugs

American Three-toed Woodpecker searching for bugs

Length:

21cm to 23cm

Wingspan:

37cm to 39cm

Weight:

45g to 68g

Seen :

Rare, but all year

American Three-toed Woodpecker

Featuring a yellow cap on adult males, one black stripe near their beak, a blackhead, black ad white flanks, a black rump and wings, and white belly and throat, the American Three-toed Woodpecker can commonly be found in coniferous forests with dying trees near water all-year but is rare to see.

This species dines on a variety of insects like spruce beetles and wood-boring beetle larvae but also eats fruit and tree sap. The American Three-toed Woodpecker removes tree bark by pecking to find the insects living inside. They use this same technique to drill tree sap.

Williamson's Sapsucker

Sphyrapicus thyroideus

Williamsons sapsucker

Williamson's Sapsucker

Williamsons sapsucker 1

Williamson's Sapsucker perched on a tree

Length:

21cm to 25cm

Wingspan:

34cm to 40cm

Weight:

44g to 55g

Seen :

Rare, but occasionally spotted

Williamson's Sapsucker

While rare for New York, Williamson’s Sapsucker is sometimes spotted in coniferous forests. The males and females of this species appear different, so they were originally misidentified as two species. Williamson’s Sapsucker drills small holes into tree bark in neat rows to feed on the internal spa oozing out.

This bird also eats tree tissues and insects attracted to the sap. Ants form a major part of their diet, especially during the breeding season.

The males can be identified by their red throat, yellow bellies, and black and white plumage, while females feature black and white barred backs and flanks, a black band along yellow bellies, and a brown head.

Lewis's Woodpecker

Melanerpes lewis

Lewiss woodpecker 1

Lewis's Woodpecker perched

Lewiss woodpecker 2

Lewis's Woodpecker

Lewiss woodpecker in flight

Lewis's Woodpecker in flight

Lewiss woodpecker

Lewis's Woodpecker on a tree

Length:

26cm to 28cm

Wingspan:

49cm to 52cm

Weight:

120g

Seen :

Rare, but all year

Lewis's Woodpecker

Although they are uncommon to find, you can observe Lewis’s Woodpecker year-round in New York. Featuring a red face that could appear dark depending on the lighting, this woodpecker flies like a crow but forages for food like a flycatcher.

This species features long wings, a long tail, and an elongated body. They sit high on branches, posts, and wires to catch flying insects in midflight. You can find them in New York in woodlands, orchards, burned forests, and pine forests.

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