8 Types of Missouri Woodpeckers

Missouri Woodpeckers

Missouri Woodpeckers

Missouri Woodpeckers, located in the Midwestern United States, is home to a variety of woodpeckers, each with unique characteristics and habitats. These woodpeckers play important roles in the ecosystems they inhabit, contributing to forest health and biodiversity. Here are some notable woodpecker species found in Missouri:

8 Types of Missouri Woodpeckers
Woodpecker SpeciesDescription
Pileated WoodpeckerKnown for its striking appearance with a prominent red crest and large size. Inhabits mature forests, wooded suburbs, and occasionally parks. Known for its loud, drumming sounds and excavating large, rectangular-shaped holes in trees.
Red-headed WoodpeckerEasily identifiable by its bright red head, black body, and white wing patches. Prefers open woodlands, orchards, and parks with scattered trees. Known for its acrobatic foraging behavior and habit of storing food in tree crevices.
Downy WoodpeckerThe smallest and most common woodpecker in North America. Recognizable by its black and white plumage, small size, and short bill. Inhabits forests, woodlands, and urban areas, often seen at backyard feeders.
Hairy WoodpeckerResembles the Downy Woodpecker but larger in size with a longer bill. Found in similar habitats as the Downy Woodpecker, including forests and suburban areas. Feeds on insects by excavating cavities in trees and probing bark crevices.
Northern FlickerExhibits unique coloration with a barred black and white back and a distinctive red crescent on the nape. Prefers open habitats such as forests, woodlands, urban areas, and fields. Often seen foraging on the ground for ants and other insects.
Red-bellied WoodpeckerDespite its name, the red coloration on its belly is often difficult to see. Inhabits woodlands, forests, and suburban areas with mature trees. Known for its distinctive “churr” call and habit of caching food in tree crevices.
Yellow-bellied SapsuckerRecognizable by its black and white plumage, yellowish belly, and red throat patch. Frequents forests, woodlands, and suburban areas, especially where sap-producing trees are present. Creates characteristic rows of small holes (sap wells) in tree bark to feed on sap and insects attracted to it.
Red-cockaded WoodpeckerEndangered species with distinct black and white plumage and a small red cap on males. Primarily found in mature pine forests and pine savannas. Known for its unique cooperative breeding system where groups of birds help raise young in family units.

These woodpeckers are integral components of Missouri’s rich avian diversity, contributing to ecosystem balance and functioning through their foraging behaviors, cavity excavations, and role in controlling insect populations. Conservation efforts are crucial to safeguarding these species and their habitats for future generations to enjoy.

1.Pileated Woodpecker

The Pileated Woodpecker, with its striking appearance and distinctive red crest, is the largest woodpecker in North America. Found in mature forests and wooded suburbs, it’s known for its loud drumming and excavating large, rectangular holes in trees. Its presence indicates healthy woodland ecosystems.

Pileated Woodpecker is famous for several reasons. Its large size, striking appearance with a vibrant red crest, and distinctive drumming sounds make it an iconic symbol of North American woodlands. Additionally, its role in forest ecology as a keystone species further adds to its fame and ecological significance.

Pileated Woodpecker Biography

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

2.Red Headed Woodpecker

Red-headed Woodpecker, recognized by its vibrant red head contrasting against a black body and white wing patches, prefers open woodlands, orchards, and parks. It exhibits acrobatic foraging behavior, storing food in tree crevices. Its presence adds color and vitality to various North American habitats.

Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-headed Woodpecker is known for its striking appearance with a bright red head, black body, and white wing patches.

Red-headed Woodpecker is commonly found in open woodlands, orchards, parks, and wooded areas with scattered trees throughout North America.

Red Headed Woodpecker Biography

CharacteristicDescription
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.Downy Woodpecker

The Downy Woodpecker, a small but ubiquitous bird in North American forests, showcases a charming black-and-white plumage pattern. Renowned for its agile climbing and gentle drumming on trees, it frequents backyard feeders for insects and seeds. Its diminutive size and short bill distinguish it from its larger relatives.

Downy-Woodpecker

Downy Woodpeckers! These small woodpeckers are known for their distinctive drumming patterns, which they create by rapidly pecking on trees. Their drumming can indeed consist of 10 to 15 taps in quick succession. This behavior serves multiple purposes, including communication with other woodpeckers, establishing territory, and attracting mates.

Downy Woodpecker Biography

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

4.Hairy Woodpecker

The Hairy Woodpecker, a prevalent inhabitant of North American woodlands, features bold black-and-white plumage with a sturdy build. Known for its agile climbing and powerful drumming on trees, it’s often spotted foraging for insects and seeds. Distinguished by its larger size and longer bill, it’s a familiar sight in backyard habitats.

Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker Black and white plumage, large size, long bill; drumming behavior, forages on tree bark, common across North America.

Hairy Woodpecker, recognized by its distinctive black-and-white pattern, is commonly found throughout North America’s wooded habitats.

Hairy Woodpecker Biography

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

5.Northern Flicker

The Northern Flicker, a striking medium-sized woodpecker, boasts vibrant plumage of brown and black with distinctive markings. Renowned for its ground foraging habits, it frequents open woodlands, parks, and urban areas across North America. Its unique flight pattern, accompanied by rhythmic calls, adds to its charm as a versatile avian inhabitant.

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker Large, brown woodpecker with distinctive black markings; known for ground foraging and vibrant flight feathers.

Northern Flicker Commonly found across North America in open woodlands, parks, and urban areas, often foraging on the ground.

Northern Flicker Biography

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

6.Red Bellied Woodpecker

The Red-bellied Woodpecker, a vibrant resident of North American woodlands, features striking red plumage on its head and belly. Known for its distinctive call and agile climbing, it forages on trees for insects and seeds. Its presence adds color and charm to forested habitats across its range.

Red Bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker, known for its vibrant red plumage and distinctive call, forages on trees for insects and seeds.

Red Bellied Woodpecker is commonly found in woodlands and forests across North America, adding vibrant colors to its habitat.

Red Bellied Woodpecker Biography

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

7.Yellow Bellied Sapsucker

The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, with its distinctive black and white plumage and a hint of yellow on its belly, is renowned for its unique feeding behavior. It drills holes in trees to feed on sap, attracting insects and hummingbirds. This migratory bird is commonly found in North American woodlands during the breeding season.

Yellow Bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Recognized for its black and white plumage with a yellow belly, and its sap-drilling feeding behavior.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is commonly found in North American forests, particularly in deciduous woodlands, during its breeding season.

Yellow Bellied Sapsucker Biography

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

8.Red Cockaded Woodpecker

The Red-cockaded Woodpecker, a federally endangered species, is distinguished by its black and white plumage and small red crown patch. It inhabits mature pine forests of the southeastern United States, where it excavates cavities for nesting. Conservation efforts focus on restoring its habitat and managing forests sustainably to ensure its survival.

Red-cockaded Woodpecker, with distinctive black and white plumage, is critically endangered, inhabiting southeastern pine forests.

Red-cockaded Woodpecker is primarily found in mature pine forests of the southeastern United States.

Red Cockaded Woodpecker Biography

StageDescription
NameRed-cockaded Woodpecker
StatusCritically Endangered
AppearanceBlack and white plumage with small red crown patch
HabitatMature pine forests, primarily in the southeastern United States
BehaviorExcavates cavities in pine trees for nesting; lives in family groups
DietMainly insects, including beetles and ants, found in pine trees
ConservationSubject to intensive conservation efforts due to habitat loss and fragmentation; managed habitat and artificial nest cavities are key conservation strategies
PopulationEstimated at around 12,500 breeding groups, with populations declining due to habitat loss and fragmentation
Notable FeatureUtilizes ‘sap wells’ around nest cavities to deter tree-climbing snakes; requires mature pine forests with specific characteristics for breeding, making it highly sensitive to habitat changes

Conclusion

The diverse array of woodpecker species found in Missouri contributes to the state’s rich avian biodiversity. From the majestic Pileated Woodpecker to the diminutive Downy Woodpecker, each species plays a unique role in the ecosystem. Conservation efforts are crucial to safeguard these woodpeckers and their habitats for future generations.

FAQS


What types of woodpeckers can be found in Missouri?

Missouri is home to eight woodpecker species: Pileated, Red-headed, Red-bellied, Downy, Hairy, Northern Flicker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker.

Where can I find Pileated Woodpeckers in Missouri?

Pileated Woodpeckers inhabit mature forests with large trees across Missouri, particularly in areas with abundant deadwood for foraging and nesting.

What are the distinguishing features of the Red-headed Woodpecker?

The Red-headed Woodpecker stands out with its striking red head, black and white body, and vibrant red belly, making it easily recognizable.

Are woodpeckers harmful to trees in Missouri?

While woodpeckers may create holes in trees during foraging and nesting, they primarily feed on insects harmful to trees, providing a valuable service in forest health.

How can I attract woodpeckers to my backyard in Missouri?

To attract woodpeckers, provide suet feeders, dead trees or branches for foraging and nesting, and maintain a diverse habitat with trees, shrubs, and open spaces.

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