Thursday, February 28, 2019

Review of Woodpecker Facts and Photography

Downy Woodpecker on a birdfeeder photo by mbgphoto
                                                                         Downy Woodpecker

I have been fascinated by woodpeckers for a long time, but I didn't realize there were so many different types of woodpeckers.  This year I purchased a peanut feeder for my backyard.  When I started to see different types of woodpeckers using the feeder I checked out information about woodpeckers  both online and in my Backyard Birds guide.  In this post I will show you photos and facts about the four types of woodpeckers that have visited my backyard.

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker perching on a shepherds hook photo by mbgphoto
The Northern Flicker is a very handsome bird.  It has a brown back with black bars and a very distinct crescent of black on the chest. In flight the white rump is very conspicuous.  

These woodpeckers usually forage on the ground for food, but I have also seen them at my suet feeders.

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker on a birdfeeder photo by mbgphoto
Downy Woodpeckers are the most common ones that I see in my backyard.  They visit year round and are fairly small birds.  These small tubular looking woodpeckers are very delicate looking.  They have crisp black and white plumage and the males have a red patch toward the back of the head.  They have a larger look-alike cousin the Hairy Woodpecker.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Red-Bellied Woodpecker on a birdfeeder photo by mbgphoto
The Red-Bellied Woodpecker is a large bird with zebra type stripes across the back.  The red belly is really just a pink tinge across the white chest.  The really red part is on the head.  The male has a bright red cap that extends from the bill all the way down the nape.  The female is similar to the male except that the red cap is only in the  nape area.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker on a birdbath photo by mbgphoto
I have only seen this bird one day in my yard.  I was able to capture photos from several angles and posted it on birding sites.  The consensus was that it is a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.  My bird book says that I probably caught it on its' migration south.

These birds are rather large woodpeckers with a striped face pattern and a long white slash on the wing.  The male has a red throat and forecrown.  The female has white throat and red fore crown, so I would say the photo above is a male Yellow-bellied woodpecker.

Feeders for  Woodpeckers

I have two types of feeders that I use to attract woodpeckers.  The first is a cage like feeder that I fill with suet cakes.  You can see a Northern Flicker enjoying a suet cake in the photo below.
This type of feeder is also visited by several other types of birds.

Northern Flicker on a suet cake birdfeeder photo by mbgphoto

This year I purchased a peanut feeder and it has been very popular with both woodpeckers and nuthatches.  This feeder is filled with unshelled peanuts and it is fun to watch the birds peck away till they get the nut out of the shell.  This keeps them at the feeder longer and helps me to capture them with my camera.  Below is a Red Breasted Nuthatch that visited the peanut feeder.

Nuthatch on a birdfeeder photo by mbgphoto

I purchased my peanut feeder on Amazon.  You can get your own by following the link below.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. Absolutely stunning pictures Mary Beth! I love all birds and am really enjoying seeing what you are able to capture with your camera. Great pictures and a great photographer too!

  2. Your photos of woodpeckers are all so beautiful Mary Beth! I love the idea of adding the peanut feeder to keep you special guest around for a little longer. Rather ingenious, I'd say!

  3. Fascinating article about woodpeckers, Mary Beth. With your wonderful photography experience, you are keeping a great record of the birds that visit your yard.... and enjoy your feeders. Thanks for passing on the information to those of us who didn't know a Red-Bellied Woodpecker from a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (love those names - :> ). I'm not much of a bird-watcher, but do enjoy learning about different kinds of birds. And once, years ago along the Georgia coast, we had a woodpecker who lived in a hole in an ancient palm tree in our yard. I say 'ancient' because the tree had been dead for many years, but that woodpecker could be heard drumming away on the bark daily. :) The tree eventually just fell over and the woodpecker left. I cannot remember what he (said woodpecker) looked like, but I do seem to remember a red head, so perhaps he was the red-bellied woodpecker. Well, now I'm sure of it as I just looked it up and the red-bellied woodpecker is the most common woodpecker species in Georgia. Wish now I'd tried to take his picture, but am delighted to have the information from my expert photographer and bird knowledge friend.

  4. Your photos are stunning! Just beautiful. If you haven't done so, you could do a beautiful coffee table book with all the incredible photos you've snapped over the years.

  5. These woodpeckers are gorgeous! My chimney cap and a woodpecker had quite a "friendship" in the Spring. Every morning at daybreak the woodpecker (named Bob) would arrive and start pecking the metal chimney cap ... for hours... I much prefer your photos and the feeders :) than being wakened by Bob every morning!

  6. I really enjoy photographing woodpeckers. It can be a challenge when they are in the act of jack-hammering tree bark. Lovely photos. The Northern flickers have to be one of the most beautiful birds in terms of their exquisite plumage. I'll have to put up a peanut feeder. I've had good luck with my suet feeder.


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