There are eight woodpeckers found in Michigan.
- At about 6 inches, it’s smallest woodpecker in North America and the
most frequent visitor to backyard feeders year-round. They have a white
belly and back and their black wings have white bars. The males have a
red patch on the back of the head. It’s called downy because of the soft
feathers on its back.
2. Red-headed Woodpecker
– These woodpeckers have an unmistakable bright red head, black wings
and white belly. They spend the summers in all of Michigan but aren’t as
common at birdfeeders.
3. Red-bellied Woodpecker
- They are common throughout most of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula
year-round. People often call the Red-bellied woodpecker by a list of
common misnomers like red-headed or ladder-back woodpecker because of
their gleaming red caps and striking black and white barred backs. Since
virtually all woodpeckers are black and white with patches of bright
colors on various parts of their bodies, the Red-bellied was named for
the unique pinkish tinge on the belly, common to both genders.
4. Hairy Woodpecker
– At about 9 inches, these medium woodpeckers look like their smaller
downy woodpecker cousins. They aren’t as common at suburban birdfeeders.
5. Pileated Woodpecker
– Male and female Pileated Woodpeckers both have a flaming red crest
but the males have a red “moustache”. There is no real consensus on
whether this bird’s name is pronounced “pie-lee-ated” or “pill-ee-ated”.
6. Northern Flicker
– Unlike most woodpeckers, this species spends much of its time on the
ground, feeding mostly on ants. Both the male and females have a red
chevron on the back of their heads, black bibs, speckled chest, and a
brown, barred back and wings. The males have a black “mustache”.
7. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
– Sapsuckers don’t actually suck sap- they lap it up with a tongue that
resembles a paintbrush. According to AllAboutBirds.com, “The
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is the only woodpecker in eastern North America
that is completely migratory. Although a few individuals remain
throughout much of the winter in the southern part of the breeding
range, most head farther south, going as far south as Panama. Females
tend to migrate farther south than do males.”
8. Black-backed Woodpecker – I’ve never seen this bird. It is a year-round resident of northern Michigan and the U.P. According to Ted Black in his Birds of Michigan field guide,
the blacked-backed are reclusive birds that are most active in recently
burned forest patches where wood-boring beetles thrive under charred