Knock Knock Knock on Wood

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In the silence of the woods, you suddenly hear the sound of drilling or hammering fill the air.  It’s a good chance you’re hearing a woodpecker busy at work.

Maryland has seven species of woodpeckers.  And right now, they are all very active, busy stashing food in preparation for any future wintry days when pickings may be scarce.

I’ll share them in size order, starting with Maryland’s smallest, the adorable Downy Woodpecker.

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Downy Woodpecker (male, ID’d by red spot on nape)
Length 5.5-6.7 inches (14-17 cm)

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Downy Woodpecker (male)

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Downy male chasing another male away from his gal

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Downy Woodpecker pair

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Very close in looks to the Downy but larger in length is the Hairy Woodpecker.  Its additional ID differences to the Downy is the much larger-looking beak-to-head ratio and lacks the spots along the outer tail feathers.

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Hairy Woodpecker (male, ID’d by red spot on nape)
Length 7.1-10.2 inches (18-26 cm)

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Hairy Woodpecker (male)

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Close in size to the Hairy is the next woodpecker, the beautiful Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

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Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (female, she lacks the red throat)
Length 7.1-8.7 inches (18-22 cm)

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Almost the same size to the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is the next woodpecker, the striking Red-headed Woodpecker.

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Red-headed Woodpecker (both sexes look identical)
Length 7.5-9.1 inches (19-23 cm)

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The next woodpecker also has a lot of red on its head, the Red-bellied Woodpecker.

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Red-bellied Woodpecker (male, ID’d by red crown)
Length 9.4 inches (24 cm)

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Red-bellied Woodpecker (male – see its tongue?)

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Red-bellied Woodpecker (female – lacks red crown, both have red nape)

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Red-bellied Woodpecker (male)

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Red-bellied Woodpecker (male)

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Larger than the Red-bellied Woodpecker and just as pretty, the Northern Flicker.  Our eastern version is the yellow-shafted tail; the western version is red-shafted.

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Northern Flicker (female, ID’d by lack of black mustache)
Length 11.0-12.2 inches (28-31 cm)

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Northern Flicker (female)

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Finally, the last of the seven and the largest of them all, the Pileated Woodpecker.

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Pileated Woodpecker (male, ID’d by red stripe on cheek)
Length 15.8-19.3 inches (40-49 cm)

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Pileated Woodpecker (male)

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I hope you enjoyed this comparison post of Maryland’s seven woodpeckers.  I am fortunate to have all seven local to me.  In fact, most of these photos were taken in my backyard.

Quite interesting, there are a total of 23 woodpecker species in the United States!

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61 thoughts on “Knock Knock Knock on Wood

  1. Gorgeous photos, Donna. We often have a red-bellied woodpecker in one of our backyard palm trees. I love to see and hear him. 🙂

    • Thank you, Eddie! When we spent three winters in Florida, I was in love with the woodpeckers and palm trees, I couldn’t get enough! I was a little shocked at 23 total woodpeckers myself. 🙂

    • Thank you, Hans! It is pretty special, little over an acre, most of the land is in the backyard with old pin oak trees, bordering a nice old, old forest. I can stand on my back deck and watch/shoot. In past 15 months, I’ve seen 102 species of birds from my backyard. 🙂

  2. Thanks for this series and noting the differences between these woodpeckers, Donna. Apparently we have the same 7 species here in Connecticut but I’ve only seen 3 of them. That Red-headed Woodpecker is very striking!

    • You’re quite welcome, Barbara! I have a lot of fun chasing woodpeckers with my camera. The Red-headed is my most elusive one to find for me, that head is so beautiful I agree!

  3. Love, love, love these… I think we have most of them, too, but except for the Pileated they tend to be pretty elusive. Your comparison shots are really helpful for ID. My favorite was the red-bellied in the grass. Beautiful catches one and all!
    (Sorry I’ve gone missing for awhile, but we’ve had some exciting storms here on the coast… and then there’s my tendency to hibernate this time of year.)

    • Thank you, Gunta! I’m having great luck with sightings of the Pileated right now, but the Red-heads are my most elusive. I have to pretty much go to special locations to find them. The others are everywhere right now!

      Looks like some of those storms are on us right now and through the night for us. Hope you’ve been able to stay dry and warm!

  4. Excellent gallery of woodpeckers, Donna. You must be happy to have all in your backyard! Thanks,! 🙂

  5. What a treat to see all of Maryland’s woodpeckers here, Donna–and so beautifully presented. Good explanations, too. All the photos are woodsy and lovely, but I especially liked the red-bellied male with his tongue and great light. We don’t have some of these in Calif., like the red-bellied and red-headed (so stunning!), and we don’t have the yellow-bellied sapsucker either. Great to see your species and such a beautiful gallery.

    • Thank you, Jet! I have a pair of Red-bellies that must live within my trees or the bordering woods, I see and hear them daily, they are probably our noisiest woodpecker, they love to visit my feeders to collect sunflower seeds and go up into the pin oaks and pound them into the branches to hide them. I love their smartness! You have quite a few more WP species on the west coast, I’ve not been fortunate to see any of them except the Gilded Flicker. So many beauties!

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