Woodpecker Species of the United States: A Photo List of All Native Species

Excluding vagrant species, 23 woodpecker species are native to the United States (see list below). Although they vary in form and habit, most of these birds are widespread and can be found relatively easily.

While a significant number of woodpecker species maintain healthy populations, none are free from human threats, which range from habitat loss to harmful pesticides. These dangers have already proven disastrous for two of North America's largest woodpeckers — the Ivory-billed and Mexico's Imperial — which are almost certainly extinct. Others, like the Lewis's and Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, have suffered large-scale declines and now benefit from intensive conservation efforts.

American Bird Conservancy and other conservation organizations are helping imperiled woodpecker species by conserving critical habitat, improving land management practices, and educating landowners about the importance of forest conservation.

Our List of U.S. Woodpeckers

The alphabetical list below includes all species of woodpeckers that occur in the continental United States. While some woodpeckers are found almost exclusively within our borders, others range far into Canada or south into Mexico and beyond. For the purposes of this U.S.-based list, we've used Partners in Flight (PIF) population and conservation data exclusive to the United States and Canada, which may not reflect global numbers. In cases where PIF data was unavailable, we relied upon information from the North American Breeding Bird Survey. We have omitted two vagrant species, the Great Spotted Woodpecker and Eurasian Wryneck, which rarely visit the U.S.

Acorn WoodpeckerBarn owls are one of the many types of owls found in the United States

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 2,000,000
Population Trend: Increasing
Habitat: Western forests with oaks
Threats: Habitat loss, invasive bird species (European Starling), occasional hunting
Note: In the fall, Acorn Woodpecker groups choose a “granary” tree into which they drill holes to store acorns. A single granary tree can sometimes hold up to 50,000 acorns.

American Three-toed Woodpecker Barred Owl

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 1,400,000
Population Trend: Decreasing
Habitat: Boreal and mountain forests
Threats: Forest fragmentation, insect declines/reduced food resources, fire suppression
Note: The American Three-toed Woodpecker has one toe less than most woodpeckers, a trait that some believe allows it to lean further away from trees, delivering more forceful strikes. American Three-toed Woodpecker populations have declined by more than 25 percent since 1970.

Arizona WoodpeckerBoreal Owl

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: <5,000
Population Trend: N/A
Habitat: “Mexican” pine-oak forest
Threats: Habitat loss and fragmentation
Note: The Arizona Woodpecker is a species of conservation concern. Due to its population size and restricted range, it has been added to PIF's Yellow List. Its habitat extends north from Mexico into southeastern Arizona and New Mexico's far southwestern corner.

Black-backed Woodpecker Burrowing Owl

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 1,800,000
Population Trend: Increasing
Habitat: Boreal and mountain forest
Threats: Habitat loss, fire suppression, post-fire salvage logging
Note: Like American Three-toed Woodpeckers, Black-backed Woodpeckers thrive in burned forests, where they harvest wood-boring beetle larvae. Their black plumage serves as excellent camouflage in the charred areas they prefer.

Downy Woodpecker Eastern Screech-Owl are one of the many types of owls found in the United States

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 13,000,000
Population Trend: Increasing
Habitat: Eastern and western forests
Threats: Loss of nesting sites
Note: Downy Woodpeckers are the smallest woodpeckers in the United States. They take advantage of their size to reach food sources that are inaccessible to other woodpeckers, including insects living in weeds.

Gila Woodpecker Elf Owl

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 430,000
Population Trend: Decreasing
Habitat: Desert scrub
Threats: Habitat loss and invasive bird species (European Starling)
Note: Unlike most types of woodpeckers, the Gila Woodpecker does not nest in dead trees; instead, this desert-dwelling species prefers to raise its young in cavities within living Saguaro cacti. If current rates of decline persist, Gila Woodpecker populations may be halved in 50 years.

Gilded FlickerFeather Friendly, effective product to stop birds hitting windows

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 240,000
Population Trend: Decreasing
Habitat: Desert scrub
Threats: Habitat loss, wildfires
Note: Gilded Woodpecker populations have declined by more than 50 percent over the last 50 years. It is a species of conservation concern and has been added to PIF's Yellow List.

Golden-fronted WoodpeckerFlammulated Owl

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 820,000
Population Trend: Decreasing
Habitat: Dry forest
Threats: Potentially harmed by pesticides and habitat degradation
Note: Golden-fronted Woodpeckers range widely in Mexico and Central America. In the United States, they are found primarily in Texas and a small portion of Oklahoma. Golden-fronted Woodpecker populations have declined by more 45 percent over the last 50 years.

Hairy WoodpeckerGreat Gray Owls are one of the many types of owls found in the United States

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 8,500,000
Population Trend: Increasing
Habitat: Eastern and western forests
Threats: Habitat fragmentation, invasive bird species (European Starling)
Note: Hairy Woodpeckers benefit from the work of other woodpeckers. They occasionally follow Pileated Woodpeckers, inspecting the larger birds' excavations for overlooked insects. Similarly, they drink sap from excavations made by sapsuckers.

Ivory-billed WoodpeckerGreat Horned Owl

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: N/A
Population Trend: N/A
Habitat: Eastern forests
Threats: Historic habitat loss and hunting
Note: The last universally accepted sighting in the U.S. occurred in 1944. Although the Ivory-billed Woodpecker is still listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as Endangered, it's widely agreed that the species is likely extinct. Sporadic reports of sightings continue, but undisputed evidence of the species' existence remains elusive.

Ladder-backed WoodpeckerLong-eared Owls are one of the 19 types of owls found in the United States

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 2,100,000
Population Trend: Stable
Habitat: Desert scrub and open forests
Threats: Potentially affected by ranching and overgrazing
Note: Formerly known as the “Cactus Woodpecker,” the Ladder-backed Woodpecker is found throughout Mexico. Its range in the U.S. extends from Texas to California, where it thrives in dry habitats including mesquite thickets and pinyon-juniper forest.

Lewis's WoodpeckerNorthern Hawk Owl

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 69,000
Population Trend: Decreasing
Habitat: Dry, open western forests
Threats: Changes to forest composition due to fire suppression, grazing, logging, and climate change
Note: Unlike other types of woodpeckers, the Lewis's Woodpecker rarely bores into trees. Most often, it captures insects in the air. Lewis's Woodpecker populations have declined by more 70 percent over the last 50 years. It is a species of conservation concern and has been added to PIF's Yellow List.

Northern FlickerNorthern Pygmy-Owl

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 9,900,000
Population Trend: Decreasing
Habitat: Eastern and western forests
Threats: Not well understood. Possible causes include pesticide use, invasive bird species (European Starling), and loss of suitable nest-cavity trees.
Note: Northern Flickers subsist primarily on a diet of ants, which they dig out of the ground. They use their barbed tongues to quickly snatch up invertebrate prey.

Nuttall's Woodpecker Northern Saw-whet Owl

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 650,000
Population Trend: Increasing
Habitat: Oak and riparian forests
Threats: Habitat loss
Note: Nuttall's Woodpeckers are found primarily in California's oak woodlands, but they do not eat acorns. Instead, they mainly subsist on an insect diet including beetles, termites, and ants.

Pileated Woodpecker Short-eared Owl

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 2,600,000
Population Trend: Increasing
Habitat: Eastern and northwestern forests
Threats: Loss of suitable nest-cavity trees
Conservation Status: Except for the Ivory-bill, which is most likely extinct, the Pileated Woodpecker is the largest woodpecker in North America. Its massive excavations sometimes cause smaller trees to break in half.

Red-bellied Woodpecker Snowy Owl are one of the 19 types of owls found in United States

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 15,000,000
Population Trend: Increasing
Habitat: Eastern forests
Threats: Potential dangers include pesticides, habitat degradation, invasive bird species (European Starling)
Note: Like all types of woodpeckers, Red-bellied Woodpeckers are cavity-nesters. Although they sometimes evict smaller Red-cockaded Woodpeckers from nest sites, Red-bellieds themselves are more often displaced by European Starlings.

Red-breasted SapsuckerSpotted Owl

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 2,300,000
Population Trend: Increasing
Habitat: Western forests
Threats: Loss of suitable nest-cavity trees
Note: Like other sapsuckers, the Red-breasted Sapsucker feeds on tree sap as well as insects. The holes they drill to harvest sap (known as sap wells) provide some hummingbird species with an additional food source.

Red-cockaded WoodpeckerWestern Screech Owl

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 15,000
Population Trend: Decreasing
Habitat: Longleaf Pine forest
Threats: Habitat loss and fragmentation
Note: The Red-cockaded is one of the few woodpeckers to excavate cavities in living, green wood. These birds live in family groups, primarily in mature Longleaf Pine stands with little understory. As these forests have disappeared, so have Red-cockaded Woodpeckers; their populations have declined by more than 80 percent over the last 50 years. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed these birds as Endangered in 1970.

Red-headed WoodpeckerWhiskered Screech Owls are one of the many types of owls found in the United States

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 1,600,000
Population Trend: Decreasing
Habitat: Eastern forests
Threats: Altered forest composition leading to decreased food supplies and nesting sites
Note: Red-headed Woodpeckers store nuts like Acorn Woodpeckers, eat fruit, and will catch insects on the wing like flycatchers. Their populations have declined by nearly 70 percent over the last 50 years. They are listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List, and have been placed on the State of the Birds Watch List.

Red-naped SapsuckerWhiskered Screech Owls are one of the many types of owls found in the United States

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 2,000,000
Population Trend: Increasing
Habitat: Western forests
Threats: Habitat loss and degradation
Note: As is true with many other abandoned woodpecker holes, Red-naped Sapsucker cavities provide excellent homes for birds that can't excavate their own nest sites. In the case of the Red-naped, beneficiaries include nuthatches, chickadees, and Mountain Bluebirds.

White-headed WoodpeckerWhiskered Screech Owls are one of the many types of owls found in the United States

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 200,000
Population Trend: Increasing
Habitat: Western pine forests
Threats: Habitat loss and fragmentation, fire suppression, snag removal
Note: Rather than hammer into wood for insects, White-headed Woodpeckers find prey by peeling away tree bark and investigating needle clusters. They are found in mountainous pine forests in parts of the West. White-headed Woodpeckers are listed as Critical in Idaho and Sensitive in Oregon where Ponderosa Pine logging has been extensive.

Williamson's SapsuckerWhiskered Screech Owls are one of the many types of owls found in the United States

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 290,000
Population Trend: Increasing
Habitat: Western forests
Threats: Habitat loss
Note: The difference in coloration between male and female Williamson's Sapsuckers is so striking that they were originally thought to be different species. While males sport colorful plumage with highlights of red and yellow, females have a more subdued, barred appearance, resembling small flickers.

Yellow-bellied SapsuckerWhiskered Screech Owls are one of the many types of owls found in the United States

U.S./Canada Population Estimate: 12,000,000
Population Trend: Increasing
Habitat: Eastern forests
Threats: Localized effects of habitat loss
Note: The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is the only migratory woodpecker in North America in which virtually the entire population moves each year. During the winter, nearly all of these birds leave their breeding grounds in the northern U.S. and Canada. While many winter in the southern U.S. and Mexico, some travel as far south as Panama.

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5 Comments

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  3. John Gregoire

    June 27, 2020 at 7:59 am

    Why is this not shareable to Facebook where it might do some good?

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    • Clare Nielsen

      June 27, 2020 at 9:22 am

      Hi John – you can share to Facebook by clicking on the social media icon that appears on the left-hand side of the page. Hope that helps. — Clare Nielsen, American Bird Conservancy

      Reply
  4. Josie

    June 27, 2020 at 12:50 pm

    Love bird watching!

    Reply