8 Types of Missouri Woodpeckers

Missouri woodpeckers are unique birds. They are vital to our natural world and produce intriguing noises. We’ll discover more about these birds in this article including their habitat, distinctive characteristics, and significance to the ecosystem.

Discover the world of these drumming birds by traveling through the woodlands of Missouri with us.

8 Types of Missouri woodpeckers are described in detail.

1-Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Throughout eastern North America, the Red-Bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) is a visually spectacular and captivating bird. Despite its name, the vivid crimson crest of this bird typically overshadows the red on its belly, making it difficult to see.

Red-bellied Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
CharacteristicsDescription
Common NameRed-Bellied Woodpecker
SizeApproximately 9.5 inches in length
Weight2 to 3 ounces
Physical Features– Rounded head – Striking red cap (males) – Faint reddish belly – Zebra-like black and white back pattern – Thick black bill – Dark gray legs and feet
HabitatEastern woodlands, suburbs, and city parks
RangeSoutheastern United States, expanding northward to eastern Canada
Diet– Insects – Spiders – Arthropods – Plant foods like pine cones, acorns, and fruit (grapes, hackberries) – More fruit and berry consumption compared to other woodpeckers
Foraging Habits– Use long, barbed tongues to extract insects from crevices or bird feeders – Males have longer, wider-tipped tongues
Breeding– Not monogamous – Form pairs in late winter – Nest in dead wood, natural cavities, or nest boxes
Migratory BehaviorNon-migratory, remaining in their breeding range year-round
Range ExpansionAssisted by backyard feeders, expanding their range to the north
Distinctive Features– Faint red belly – Striking red cap (males) – Zebra-like black and white back pattern
Conservation StatusStable population, with an estimated 10 million breeding pairs
Notable ObservationSome have been observed drinking nectar from hummingbird feeders

2-Red-headed Woodpecker

Often seen in open forests and fields, the Red-Headed Woodpecker is a stunning bird with a vibrant red head and distinctive black and white body.

Red-headed Woodpecker
CharacteristicsDescription
Common NameRed-headed Woodpecker
Size7 to 9 inches in length, wingspan around 16 inches
Physical Features– Striking redhead, throat, and upper breast – Large white patches on wings – Black back, wings, and tail with white edges – White belly
HabitatOpen woodlands, forests, groves, wooded edges, suburban and rural areas
RangeNative to North America
Behavior– Active foragers, often catching insects in the air – Known for their acrobatic flight and catching insects on the wing – Store food in tree crevices for later use
Diet– Varied diet, including insects, spiders, fruits, nuts, and seeds – Often catches insects on the wing during flight
Nesting– Build nests in tree cavities or nest boxes – Lay 4-7 eggs per clutch – Both parents participate in incubation and feeding of young
Conservation Status– Declining in some regions due to habitat loss and competition for nesting sites – Protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in the United States
Notable Behavior– Store surplus food in crevices by impaling it on sharp objects like thorns or bark – Defend territories aggressively against other birds and predators

3-Pileated Woodpecker

Large and strong, the Pileated Woodpecker is distinguished by its characteristic red crest and dense woodland home.

Pileated Woodpecker
CharacteristicsDescription
Common NamePileated Woodpecker
SizeApproximately 16-19 inches in length
Physical Features– Striking black body – Prominent red crest on the head – White stripes on the face – Long, chisel-like bill – White underwings with black borders
Habitat– Large, mature forests – Wooded areas near water sources – Also found in suburban and urban environments
RangeNative to North America
Behavior– Drum loudly on trees to establish territory and attract mates – Use their strong bills to excavate large, rectangular cavities in tree trunks – Agile climbers and can cling to tree trunks vertically
Diet– Mainly feed on insects, especially wood-boring beetles – Also consume fruits, nuts, and berries – Opportunistic feeders
Nesting– Construct nests in tree cavities – Lay 2-5 white eggs per clutch – Both parents participate in incubation and feeding of young
Conservation Status– Generally stable population – Beneficial to forests by controlling insect pests – Protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in the United States
Notable Behavior– Their loud, distinctive call sounds like a maniacal laugh – Known for their impressive drumming on tree trunks – Important for forest ecosystem health by controlling insect populations

4-Downy Woodpecker

With its distinctive black and white plumage, the Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) is a tiny and endearing species of woodpecker. Across North America, residential backyards and forests are often visited by the Downy Woodpecker, which is distinguished by a red streak at the back of its head in males.

Downy Woodpecker
CharacteristicsDescription
Common NameDowny Woodpecker
SizeAbout 6 to 7 inches in length
Physical Features– Black and white plumage – Small size – Short bill – White undersides with black spots – Males have a small red patch on the back of the head
Habitat– Various wooded habitats, including forests, parks, and gardens – Found throughout North America
Behavior– Agile climbers and can move up, down, and around tree trunks – Frequent visitors to bird feeders – Drum on trees but have quieter drumming compared to larger woodpeckers
Diet– Mainly feed on insects, especially insects hiding in tree bark – Also eat seeds, berries, and suet – Frequent visitors to backyard bird feeders
Nesting– Construct nests in tree cavities – Lay 3-7 white eggs per clutch – Both parents participate in incubation and feeding of young
Conservation Status– Common and stable population – Not considered a conservation concern – Protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in the United States
Notable Behavior– Social birds that often forage in small groups – Recognizable by their distinctive “pik” call – Easily confused with the similar-looking Hairy Woodpecker, but Downy Woodpeckers are smaller and have a shorter bill

5-Hairy Woodpecker

The bigger Hairy Woodpecker, Picoides villosus, is distinguished by its black and white plumage and its preference for older woodlands. It looks a lot like the Downy Woodpecker, but it’s much larger.

Hairy Woodpecker
  CharacteristicsDescription
Common NameHairy Woodpecker
SizeAbout 7 to 10 inches in length
Physical Features– Black and white plumage – Medium size – Long, chisel-like bill – White undersides with black spots – No red markings on head
Habitat– Various wooded habitats, including forests, woodlands, and urban areas – Found throughout North America
Behavior– Agile climbers and can move up, down, and around tree trunks – Drum on trees with a distinctive “peek” drumming sound – Visit bird feeders, especially for suet
Diet– Mainly feed on insects, especially insects hiding in tree bark – Also eat seeds, berries, and suet – Frequent visitors to backyard bird feeders
Nesting– Construct nests in tree cavities – Lay 3-6 white eggs per clutch – Both parents participate in incubation and feeding of young
Conservation Status– Common and stable population – Not considered a conservation concern – Protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in the United States
Notable Behavior– Often confused with the smaller Downy Woodpecker, but Hairy Woodpeckers are larger with a longer bill – Distinctive drumming sound on trees – Frequent backyard visitors, especially for suet feeders

6-Lewis’s Woodpecker

The distinctive Lewis’s Woodpecker is distinguished by its ebony coloring and elegant flying style.

Lewis's Woodpecker
CharacteristicsDescription
Common NameLewis’s Woodpecker
SizeApproximately 10-11 inches in length
Physical Features– Distinctive plumage with a dark pink-red face, gray collar, and dark greenish-black body – Dark red or blackish wings with white patches – Large and somewhat stocky woodpecker
Habitat– Open woodlands, burned or charred forests – Found in western North America, including parts of the United States and Canada
Behavior– Perch conspicuously on treetops and wires – Catch insects during aerial flights – Unique in not relying heavily on drilling for food
Diet– Insectivorous, feeding on insects and their larvae – Also eat fruits and occasionally acorns – Known for catching insects in mid-air
Nesting– Build nests in tree cavities – Lay 4-6 white eggs per clutch – Both parents participate in incubation and feeding of young
Conservation Status– Populations have been declining due to habitat loss – Considered a species of concern in some regions – Protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in the United States
Notable Behavior– Not a typical drumming woodpecker; more reliant on flycatching – Unique pink-red face and striking wing patterns – Known for its graceful and agile aerial foraging

7-Northern Flicker

With its bright underwings, the Northern Flicker is easily identified, and it frequently searches the ground for insects to eat.

Northern Flicker
CharacteristicsDescription
Common NameNorthern Flicker
SizeApproximately 11-14 inches in length
Physical Features– Medium-sized woodpecker with brown plumage – Black crescent on chest – Yellow or red-shafted underwings and tail feathers – Undulating flight pattern
Habitat– Diverse habitats, including woodlands, forests, open fields, and urban areas – Found throughout North America
Behavior– Ground foragers, often seen feeding on ants and beetles – Known for their distinctive “flickering” flight – Drum on objects to establish territory
Diet– Mainly insectivorous, feeding on ants, beetles, and other insects – Also consume berries, fruits, and seeds – Frequent visitors to open lawns for foraging
Nesting– Construct nests in tree cavities or nest boxes – Lay 6-8 white eggs per clutch – Both parents participate in incubation and feeding of young
Conservation Status– Populations are generally stable and widespread – Not considered a conservation concern – Protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in the United States
Notable Behavior– Known for their distinctive “wick-a-wick-a-wick” call – Unique undulating flight pattern – Varied coloration with two distinct subspecies: Yellow-shafted and Red-shafted Flickers

8-Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

The Belly of Yellow The black and white plumage of sapsuckers makes them easily identifiable, and they drill holes in trees in order to collect sap.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
CharacteristicsDescription
Common NameYellow-bellied Sapsucker
SizeApproximately 7-8 inches in length
Physical Features– Black and white plumage with distinctive red throat and forehead – Yellow wash on the belly – Black wings with white bars – Males have a red patch on the throat
Habitat– Wooded areas, forests, and orchards – Found in North America, especially during migration
Behavior– Drill small holes in tree bark to feed on sap – Create and maintain sapwells to attract insects – Drum on trees to establish territory – Migrate to southern areas during the winter
Diet– Mainly sap feeders, consuming tree sap and the insects attracted to it – Also eat insects, fruits, and berries – Drill small holes in tree bark to extract sap
Nesting– Construct nests in tree cavities, often reusing old woodpecker nests – Lay 4-7 white eggs per clutch – Both parents participate in incubation and feeding of young
Conservation Status– Populations are generally stable – Not considered a conservation concern – Protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in the United States
Notable Behavior– Known for their “mewing” calls – Create distinctive rows of small holes in tree bark called sapwells – Important in forest ecosystems for their role in insect control

Conclusion

We’ve now covered a great deal of the interesting world of woodpeckers, each with distinctive characteristics and a special place in the natural world. These birds, whether they are Missouri woodpeckers or not, enhance our surroundings with their colorful plumage, sounds, and antics.

As we show our gratitude for these birds, let us not forget to preserve their natural habitats, which will guarantee the survival of these amazing animals. Woodpeckers are an essential component of the natural world, whether they are found in Missouri or elsewhere, and their existence enhances the beauty and harmony of our surroundings. Therefore, appreciate the woodpeckers in your neighborhood and recognize their significance to the ecology.

FAQS

1-Are woodpeckers exclusively found in Missouri?

Yes, Missouri is home to several different species of woodpeckers, including the ones included in this article. Every species has adjusted to its environment in North America.

2-How can I distinguish between species of woodpeckers that are similar to each other, such as Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers?

Despite having similar appearances, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers may be distinguished by size and length of beak. In comparison to Hairy Woodpeckers, which have longer bills, Downy Woodpeckers are smaller and have shorter bills.

3-Why do woodpeckers play such a vital role in the ecosystem?

Woodpeckers forage for insects concealed under tree bark, which helps to regulate insect populations. They also contribute to the general health of forests and help disperse seeds.

4-Do Woodpecker migrate?

The ways that different woodpecker species migrate differ. While some, like the Downy Woodpecker, may remain in their breeding region all year round, others, like the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, move to new locations throughout the winter.