8 Species of Woodpeckers in Wisconsin

In the beautiful state of Wisconsin, there are not just one or two, but a remarkable eight species of woodpeckers that call this place their home. From the small and charming Downy Woodpecker to the vibrant and striking Red-headed Woodpecker, each species brings its unique characteristics and habits to the forests and woodlands. With its diverse range of habitats, Wisconsin creates the perfect setting for these stunning birds to thrive. However, there is one species, the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, that does not stick around all year long. If you’re interested in attracting these fascinating creatures to your yard, there are several simple steps you can take, such as offering their favorite foods, providing nesting spaces, and creating a water source. So, sit back, relax, and get ready to delve into the captivating world of woodpeckers in Wisconsin.

Woodpecker Species in Wisconsin

Wisconsin is home to a diverse array of woodpecker species. There are a total of eight species of woodpeckers that can be found in the state. These species include the Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Red-headed Woodpecker, Black-backed Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Each of these species has its own unique characteristics and habits that make them fascinating to observe.

Downy Woodpecker

The Downy Woodpecker is one of the most commonly seen woodpeckers in Wisconsin. It is a small woodpecker, measuring about 6-7 inches in length. The male Downy Woodpecker can be easily distinguished by the small red patch on the back of its head. This species is commonly found in forests, woodlands, and even suburban areas where it can feed on insects and tree sap.

Hairy Woodpecker

The Hairy Woodpecker is similar in appearance to the Downy Woodpecker, but larger in size, measuring about 9-10 inches in length. It has a black and white plumage with a sturdy bill designed for drilling into trees. The Hairy Woodpecker is known for its drumming behavior, where it rapidly beats its bill against a tree trunk to communicate with other woodpeckers.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Despite its name, the Red-bellied Woodpecker has only a faint red wash on its belly. Instead, it is characterized by its vibrant red cap and black and white striped back. This species is often found in wooded areas and is known for its loud and distinctive call. The Red-bellied Woodpecker frequently visits bird feeders, where it enjoys eating seeds, nuts, and suet.

Red-headed Woodpecker

The Red-headed Woodpecker is easily recognizable by its striking red head and black and white plumage. Unlike other woodpecker species, the Red-headed Woodpecker does not rely solely on trees for foraging. It also hunts for insects on the ground and catches flying insects in mid-air. This species prefers open woodland habitats, including forest edges and savannas.

Black-backed Woodpecker

The Black-backed Woodpecker is a rare woodpecker species found in the northern parts of Wisconsin. It has a distinct black back and a white underside. This species is specially adapted to foraging on trees infested with bark beetles. It uses its strong bill to pry off bark and feed on the insects inside. The Black-backed Woodpecker requires large tracts of burned or dead trees for its habitat.

Northern Flicker

The Northern Flicker is a medium-sized woodpecker that can be found throughout Wisconsin. It has a unique appearance, with a brown body, black bib, and a beautiful yellow or red shafted tail. The Northern Flicker is known for its distinctive call and its habit of foraging for ants on the ground. It can often be spotted in open areas such as fields, parks, and suburban lawns.

Pileated Woodpecker

The Pileated Woodpecker is the largest woodpecker species in Wisconsin, measuring about 16-19 inches in length. It has a striking black body, a bright red crest, and a white stripe on its throat. This species is known for its loud and resonating drumming sound, which can be heard from a considerable distance. The Pileated Woodpecker prefers mature forests with large trees for nesting and foraging.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is the only woodpecker species in Wisconsin that is not found year-round. It is a migratory bird that spends its breeding season in the northern parts of the state and then migrates to the southern United States and Mexico for the winter. The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker has a unique feeding behavior of drilling rows of small holes in tree trunks to feed on the sap that oozes out.

Wisconsin’s Diverse Habitats

One of the reasons why Wisconsin is such a fantastic place for woodpeckers is its diverse range of habitats. From dense forests to open fields, woodpecker species can be found in a variety of environments throughout the state. The mix of coniferous and deciduous forests provides ample food sources and nesting sites for these birds.

Woodpeckers are highly adaptable and can thrive in both natural and human-altered habitats. They can be found in city parks, suburban neighborhoods, and even in agricultural fields. As long as there are suitable trees for foraging, nesting, and drumming, woodpeckers will make themselves at home.

Attracting Woodpeckers to Your Yard

If you’re interested in attracting woodpeckers to your yard, there are several steps you can take to make your property more appealing to these birds. By offering suitable food, providing nesting opportunities, and creating a welcoming environment, you can encourage woodpeckers to visit and maybe even make your yard their home.

Offering Suitable Food

Woodpeckers primarily feed on insects, so providing a variety of insects in your yard can attract these birds. Consider leaving dead trees or stumps in your yard, as they can provide a habitat for insects and be used by woodpeckers for foraging. Additionally, offering suet, a high-energy food made from animal fat, and hanging up bird feeders filled with nuts and seeds favored by woodpeckers can also attract these birds.

Leaving Dead Trees for Foraging

Dead trees, or snags, are an important habitat for woodpeckers. These trees provide nesting cavities and a reliable food source in the form of wood-boring insects. By leaving dead trees standing in your yard, you can create a valuable resource for woodpeckers. It’s important to note that if the dead tree poses a safety risk, it should be removed, but consider leaving snags that are away from structures and power lines.

Putting Up Nest Boxes

Woodpeckers are cavity nesters, meaning they nest in tree cavities. By providing nest boxes specifically designed for woodpeckers, you can attract these birds to your yard and provide them with a safe place to raise their young. Make sure to position the nest boxes at an appropriate height and facing the right direction to maximize the chances of attracting woodpeckers.

Planting Native Fruit-Bearing Plants and Trees

In addition to insects, woodpeckers also feed on fruits and berries. Planting native fruit-bearing plants and trees in your yard can provide an additional food source for these birds. Consider species like dogwood, serviceberry, and elderberry, which produce nutritious fruits that woodpeckers will enjoy.

Providing a Water Source

Like all birds, woodpeckers need access to water for drinking and bathing. Providing a bird bath or a small pond in your yard can attract woodpeckers, especially during dry periods. Make sure to keep the water source clean and fresh, and place it in an area where the birds feel safe from predators.

By implementing these strategies, you can create a woodpecker-friendly environment in your yard and enjoy the sights and sounds of these fascinating birds. Remember to be patient, as it may take some time for woodpeckers to discover and utilize the resources you provide.

In conclusion, Wisconsin is home to a diverse array of woodpecker species. Each species has its own unique characteristics and habits, making them a joy to observe in the wild. Wisconsin’s diverse habitats provide suitable conditions for woodpeckers to thrive, and by implementing a few simple strategies, you can attract these birds to your yard and create a welcoming space for them. So grab your binoculars, set up some feeders, and get ready to enjoy the wonders of woodpeckers in Wisconsin!

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