Woodpeckers in Michigan

Only eight of the approximately twelve species of woodpeckers that have been recorded in Michigan are permanent residents. If you keep your eye out carefully, you can occasionally notice the other two.

Winter is a great time to go outside and observe some of Michigan’s native woodpeckers. Many woodpeckers are occupied drilling holes in the wood and communicating with one another when other birds are migrating or hibernating.

In Michigan, keep an eye out for several woodpecker species in the trees. Many of them have red markings, generally on their heads, and the majority of them are black and white.

While some woodpeckers live alone and others in vast flocks, the majority of them dwell in small groups. In Michigan, some even coexist in groups with other woodpecker species.

From the busiest areas of Grand Rapids and Detroit to the remotest and wildest regions of the tip of the mitten, they may be found living everywhere.

Types of Woodpeckers in Michigan

There are 16 species of woodpeckers in North America, excluding sapsuckers and flickers, and 9 of them live permanently or sometimes in Michigan. That is quite remarkable and will delight Michigan birders.

Let’s examine each particular species that resides in Michigan on a permanent or seasonal basis in more detail. We’ll tell you where they like to hide, what they like to eat, and some other interesting facts about these amazing creatures that can dig through wood.

Keep reading for additional information on each species!

Picoides dorsalis, sometimes known as the American Three-toed Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)

The smallest woodpecker in North America, the downy, may be seen year-round across the whole state of Michigan. They can be easily drawn to feeders containing suet, peanuts, mixed seeds, or black sunflower seeds because they are frequently seen there.

Downys, along with chickadees and titmice, are always among the first birds to visit a new feeder that I place in my yard. They do not move, and the winter months are when they are most prevalent.

They frequently visit bird feeders, but they also hammer at trees in search of bug larvae or eat berries and acorns. Catching a Downy Woodpecker sipping nectar from a hummingbird feeder is not rare. In dead trees or dead limbs on living trees, Downy Woodpeckers like to build their nests.

Red-Headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus)

Be mindful of conservation considerations when searching for a Red-Headed Woodpecker. This truly applies to any outside activity, but because the Red-Headed Woodpecker population has been falling for a number of years and doesn’t appear to be slowing anytime soon, we humans should all take particular care of them.

Red-Headed Woodpeckers, as its name implies, have a vivid red head and a black beak. They have black backs with big patches of white, downy white chests, and underwings. The wing may occasionally be divided in half between an upper black back and white wingtips.

Red-Headed Woodpeckers often frequent lowland woods, open woodlands, and grassy savannas. Consider the Algonquin Savanna and Prairie. Red-Headed Woodpeckers are quite likely to be present here and in nearby areas.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpeckers may be seen all year round in Michigan, however they could migrate a bit south during the winter. Due to their red crowns, they can be confused for Red-headed Woodpeckers, however this species is considerably smaller. Females lack red on the head but do have a red nape.

They might be difficult to see because of their extremely light red bellies. Over their backs, they bear the typical black and white patterns.

Red-bellied Particularly if you live close to forested regions, woodpeckers can frequently be spotted at bird feeders. Because of their characteristic booming rolling cry, you frequently hear them before you see them.

Red-bellied Insects, spiders, seeds from grasses, fruit, and nuts are all consumed by woodpeckers. They will occasionally devour nestlings as well. They may reuse the same nest year after year and build their nests on dead trees. On a bed of wood chips, they lay four to five white eggs.

The Red-bellied Woodpecker’s barbed tongue, which extends 2 inches behind the beak and has a sticky spit tip, aids in catching food from deep crevices.

American Three-toed Woodpecker – Picoides dorsalis

The American Three-toed Woodpecker has a broad white stripe running down its back, medium-length black wings with white spots, and a medium-length black tail with a white underside.

This bird has a white face with a black mustache line, a black “bandit” mask that extends to the rear of the head, and a black crown. The bird’s abdomen and breast are black with white barring that resembles zebra stripes on each side. A male of this species may be identified by a yellow forehead patch and a medium-length black bill.

These birds are 8.3 to 9.1 inches long and have wingspan measurements of 14.6 to 15.3 inches.

Habitat: These woodpeckers enjoy hanging out in forested regions with dead or burned-out trees. Additionally, they particularly enjoy coniferous woodlands.

Diet: In addition to eating caterpillars and other insects that they may catch, these woodpeckers also primarily consume the larvae of wood-boring beetles.

Hairy Woodpecker

The forerunner on this list, the downy woodpecker, and hairy woodpeckers are quite similar.

They are bigger and less common than downy woodpeckers, although people sometimes confuse them because of how similar their patterns and coloring are.

Pound for pound, hairy woodpeckers are among the most active and powerful woodpeckers in North America. They are also renowned for being able to burrow deeper into trees than most other woodpeckers in order to find wood-boring bug larvae.

A hairy woodpecker will be seen at work pulling off enormous pieces of bark and repeatedly beating on the tree trunk or limb with its beak.

Starlings or sparrows have the ability to chase them away from their nesting holes.

The sole need is that they need big trees to live in and eat from, and as a result, they have a huge range that almost encompasses all of the United States and Canada.

When may people in the state view this bird?

In all four seasons, hairy woodpeckers may be seen in Michigan. Since they do not migrate, they will stay put during the bitterly harsh Michigan winters, even if they may be driven south sometimes by extremely severe temperatures.

Where in the state can one view this bird?

In Michigan, hairy woodpeckers may be found all around the state. They may be found almost anyplace because of their adaptability, as long as there are big trees around for them to nest in and eat from.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Although the lovely yellow-bellied sapsucker breeds and migrates through Michigan, it does not remain there all year.

The majority of these birds are black and white, with white bellies, black and white banded wings, and a black and white back.

Males and females may be distinguished from one another by the male’s brilliant red neck. Contrarily, females have a whitish throat. Males and females both have crimson foreheads.

The females’ bellies occasionally have a subtle golden tint, although you might not be able to tell it apart.

The birds use their beaks to make tiny holes in the tree, and then they wait for the delicious sap to come out. They eat this as well as any insects that scurry by and become impaled on the sap.

They mainly stay in Michigan’s woodland regions, although you could spot them hanging out at your suet feeder in the backyard.

Northern Flicker

The Northern Flicker is a beautiful bird that frequents backyards and may be found all around Michigan. The majority of their food comes from the ground, where they hunt for ants by sifting through leaves and mud and grabbing them with their long tongues.

They do, however, occasionally visit feeders. In addition to ants, they also consume thistle, berries, and other invertebrate species.

Despite the fact that they hunt for their food on the ground, they frequently drum on trees to communicate. Like the majority of other woodpeckers, they like building their nests in old, dead trees.

The spotted underbellies, black bibs, red backs of the necks, and yellow tails of Northern Flickers help to identify them. They are substantially smaller than a Pileated Woodpecker but yet very large, noticeably larger than a Hairy Woodpecker.

Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)

The Pileated Woodpecker, the biggest woodpecker in North America, suffered poorly as logging and deforestation increased across the country.

In recent years, they have started to see a little return. According to the Audubon Society, this might occur as a result of their being accustomed to living close to people and in second-growth forests.

Nothing about Pileated Woodpeckers makes them unnoticeable. These stunning women are largely black, with a shock of red fringe running over their hair that weirdly resembles a punk rocker’s mohawk. Males do have an additional crimson stripe down their cheekbones.

Additionally, they have the distinctively long beaks that woodpeckers are known for. Although they are predominantly black in color, Pileated Woodpeckers may be identified in flight thanks to their white underwings and sporadic white specks on their backs.

If these woodpeckers appear familiar, it’s because they served as the model for the Woody Woodpecker cartoons.

Pileated Woodpeckers may be found all year round almost anywhere in Michigan, with the exception of the thumb. They favor open, woodland regions and, although they probably prefer old growth, they appear to be adjusting to second-growth environments.

Black-backed Woodpecker

Despite being rare, the Black-backed Woodpecker is always visible in north Michigan and does not migrate.

As they are just robin-sized, they are difficult to identify, and their black backs help them blend in. On their flanks, they have black and white stripes, and most of their underbelly is white. Male; wearing a yellow hat.

It is particularly adept at consuming wood-boring beetle larvae in recently burnt woodlands. You have the highest chance of sighting the Black-backed Woodpecker in burned woods since it accomplishes this by flaking the bark off dead trees. They let out a single, precise pik call.

As opposed to the majority of species, which have four toes, this woodpecker has just three. With the exception of the absence of the white patch on their backs, they resemble the American Three-toed Woodpecker.

Black-backed Woodpeckers deposit three to four white eggs and create a fresh nest hole for each attempt at nesting, which is beneficial for other birds who depend on pre-made nest holes.

Lewis’s Woodpecker

Lewis’s woodpecker is undoubtedly a unique species of woodpecker.

Lewis’s woodpeckers search for insects similarly to flycatchers, perching on trees or branches like other woodpecker species do, but they don’t dig for them; instead, they watch for flying insects and chase after them while they are still in the air.

They fly differently from woodpeckers in that they have powerful, gliding, slow wingbeats that are more like to those of crows than woodpeckers.

They also have unusual coloring, with pink bellies and grey rings around their necks, as well as dark green backs and red faces. Although they don’t often do it, they are capable of drilling into trees as woodpeckers do.

They frequently move about and may be found in large pine woods and woodlands, although they typically only stay around long enough to reproduce.

Since Lewis’s woodpeckers are not often seen close to Michigan, they are really regarded as “accidental birds.”

When may people in the state view this bird? Although Lewis’s woodpeckers are not frequently seen in Michigan, when they are, it is typically in the late spring or early summer.

Where in the state can one view this bird? Only a few occasions have Lewis’s woodpeckers been seen in the Detroit area; otherwise, they are mostly found in the western part of the country.

They may be foraging for nuts or hunting flying insects while perched in trees.