Worldwide, 216 members of the Picidae, or woodpecker family, exist. Wisconsin itself is home to nine of the world's species of woodpeckers. Woodpeckers have the ability to chisel away at wood with their sharp beaks without harming themselves. The forest habitats of the state attract the various woodpecker species, most of which are year-round residents.
The red-headed woodpecker is a native species to the northern part of the state. Populations are found year-round with migrant populations arriving in April to late May. It has a black and white body with a bright red head.
The red-bellied woodpecker is found year-round in the southwest region of Wisconsin. Its name is misleading as it has a white or pale belly, not red. Its back is a mottled black and white coloration with a red cap on the top of the head.
The yellow-bellied sapsucker is a native to the far northern regions of Canada, Alaska and some of the more northerly states. During the winter, it migrates to the southeastern U.S., occasionally settling in Wisconsin. It has a black and white back, white stomach, and patches of red on its forehead and under the chin.
The downy woodpecker is a year-round resident of all regions of the U.S., including Wisconsin. It has black and white spotted wings with white feathers on its back and belly. Its head is black and white striped with a small patch of red right at the back of the skull.
The hairy woodpecker lives in the U.S. year-round as well as being found far north in Canada and down into Mexico. The species is virtually identical to the downy woodpecker except for having a slightly sharper and longer beak.
American Three-toed Woodpecker
The American three-toed woodpecker lives mainly in Canada and Alaska, occasionally being found in the more northern mainland U.S. Small numbers of the bird have been witnessed in far northern Wisconsin although it is not common. It is a drab-colored bird, mostly black with some white stripes on its back and a grayish belly.
The black-backed woodpecker lives in the far north areas of Canada, Alaska and some of the other more northern U.S. It is only found in the northern half of Wisconsin. It is mainly black with a white stomach and a small yellow patch on the top of its head.
The northern flicker is common throughout the state and is found widely from Canada down to Mexico. It is a gray-brown bird with a spotted belly and striped back. The bird also has a thin red strip at the base of the neck.
The pileated woodpecker is a permanent resident of the state and is found from the Pacific Northwest up through Canada and then down into the eastern U.S. It is a mainly black bird with thin white stripes on the head and neck. The bird stands out with a bright red crest on the top of its head.
- Wisconsinbirds.org: Species List
- The Cornell Lab of Ornithology: American Three-toed Woodpecker
- The Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Red-Bellied Woodpecker
- The Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Hairy Woodpecker
- The Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Downy Woodpecker
- The Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Black-backed Woodpecker