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Woodpeckers In NY: 10 Species Of Woodpeckers You Can Find

There are many wonderful bird species that an individual can observe in northern America, one particularly endearing one is the woodpeckers in New York. This is no wonder since as much as 61% of the state is considered forested.

Woodpeckers are an interesting bunch since they are some of the most featured birds on social media, there is hardly anyone in the world who would not know what a woodpecker is. However specific species are not much discussed.

That will be the point of this article, we will be talking about the number of woodpecker species one can find in the New York state, which is one of the best places for woodpecker spots. Keep reading if you are interested.

10 Species Of Woodpeckers in New York

The species of woodpeckers in New York are pretty diverse, there are many instances where an average individual could not even tell the difference. For the sake of simplification here are the woodpecker species one can find in the new york state:

  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Pileated Woodpecker
  • Red-headed Woodpecker
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Northern Flicker
  • Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker
  • Black-backed Woodpecker
  • American three-toed Woodpecker
  • Williamson’s sapsucker

1. Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

The hairy woodpecker is a medium-sized woodpecker species that is found all over North America, but most notably in New York state. This particular species is listed as of “least concern” since there is a healthy population in the present.

The coloration of this bird is typically separated into two parts, one that is black on the upper part of the body and one that is white on the lower side. It creates a sort of yin and yang relationship (black and white) for common observers.

Depending on the subspecies, the white part can be of sooty brown coloration which is still fascinating to look at since the two colors compliment each other. There are usually white spots at the dark part of the body.

There are some subspecies that have a white bar running above the eye (or below the eye) which further enhances the relationship of the two colors. Apart from this most species have a black tail with white coloration at the tip.

Expert Tip: The hairy woodpecker is often confused as the downy woodpecker due to their picture-perfect similarity in plumage.

There are also other features that are similar to the downy woodpecker. They are not closely related to each other and are separated in their genera.

2. Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

The pileated woodpecker is a significantly larger species compared to that of the hairy woodpecker, it is mostly black with a line of white that is barely noticeable. This woodpecker species is native to North America.

The most noticeable feature of this woodpecker species (other than its body of almost pure black) is its red crest perched on the top of its head with a suspiciously consistent shape. It is probably the selling point of this bird.

Being one of the largest woodpecker species in North America, it also has one of the biggest fan bases since a lot of people like this bird. A white line cuts the middle of the body in pure black, giving an interesting color combination.

In-flight, their wings also show the color of white under their wingspan that has a black color on the top side. Their favorite meals are carpenter ants and beetle larvae. Occasionally they also eat a lot of fruits including nuts, berries, and some species of poison ivy (berry), their favorite food among all was probably ants.

They are known for making rectangular-shaped holes in trees when searching for their favorite food (ants).

3. Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-headed Woodpecker
Red-headed Woodpecker

As the name suggests, the red-headed woodpecker has the biggest selling point on top of its head, a crimson red coloration that is eerily similar to the color of blood. This species is not as common in New York state (although is listed as a “least concern”).

It has a black back and tail that is most commonly seen with other woodpecker species, its belly and throat are mostly covered with white making a tri-color combo. This combination of black, white, and crimson red are fascinating.

Expert Tip: The upper side of the wing is mostly black while the lower side is purely white which makes this bird very colorful in flight. Adult males and females are identical in plumage so it may be harder to distinguish their gender this way.

The red-headed woodpecker is a medium-sized woodpecker that mostly catches insects on air (or on the ground) and will only forage trees for fruits and nuts. It even occasionally consumes other bird eggs and small mammals.

4. Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

The downy woodpecker is the smallest woodpecker species in North America and has a lot of similarities with the hairy woodpecker, there are a bunch of them in New York state. Like the hairy woodpecker, it is known for its black and white coloration.

The biggest difference is that its upper body does not have black as the dominant color, the actual darkness of the black is also not to the highest point (more like light black). Its belly and throat have a noticeable white coloration to complement the black upper body.

The top of its head is made of interchanging white and black (sort of looking like a parallel line) that is good for the bird’s aesthetic. Some species have a glint of red color on the top of their head giving a tri-color visual experience.

Its wings are mostly black similar to the rest of its upper body, however, it is littered with spots of white in which the number can vary from individual to individual. Some will have white spots on the wings that are noticeable and some would be more subtle since there’s not a lot present.

5. Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker

This species of woodpecker is a little bit confusing, it is named the red-bellied woodpecker but the actual red coloration that can be seen from its body is on the head. The red-headed woodpecker is actually a completely different species.

The red-headed woodpecker is a close relative to the red-bellied woodpecker but they look completely different appearance-wise. The red­headed woodpecker does not have a crimson red color that covers its entire head.

Instead, the red-bellied woodpecker has sort of a light-red color running from its beak to the back of the head (but doesn’t necessarily cover the whole head). Some even only have the red color at the back of the head.

Expert Tip: It got its name on a small speck of red that can be seen in its lower belly which is barely noticeable up-close, this makes the species harder to identify. The color that is the most dominant in its entire body is light gray.

6. Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

The northern flicker is a medium-sized species of woodpecker native to North America. It is one of the rare species of woodpecker that are able to migrate. It is mainly characterized by its overly brownish color.

The majority of its body has the color of brown running from its head, throat, tail underside, and belly, basically all its undersides are wood-like brown when it comes to the coloration. The only exception would be the wings.

The wings do have brown as their color but are not the most dominant one. Instead, the one that is taking the majority of the space would be the black spots that are common in this species. The brown is minimal on the wings and the tail, the upside is mostly black.

7. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

The yellow-bellied sapsucker is a medium-sized woodpecker that mostly roams in the Canadian territories, but also in the United States (there’s a lot in New York). It is primarily characterized by its brown and black color.

Expert Tip: The color pattern of this woodpecker is pretty weird, for starters, the body and the throat are mostly covered in brown but the body has stripes of black that run in parallel with each other. This causes a distorted pattern when viewed by an observer.

It has a shifting color of brown and black for the most part, with the only exception of the wings where it is mostly brown with spots of black (not necessarily a line). Most specimens will also have a red coloration residing at the top of the head making it easy to distinguish.

8. Black-backed Woodpecker

Black-backed Woodpecker
Black-backed Woodpecker

The black-backed (three-toed) woodpecker as the name suggests is known for its backside having the color of black, however, the area running throughout the belly of this woodpecker is mostly white. In-flight it can be easily mistaken for other types of birds.

Due to its simple coloration of white and black, there is little unique quality that can be used to identify this bird during flight. The only other noticeable trait is the yellow spot that can be seen on its forehead, this is the thing that most people look for.

Some subspecies would even have a slightly whiter tone on the wings instead of black, outlining the contrast of the two different colors and making a scale-like pattern (like that of a fish). They can typically be seen on woodlands preying on wood-boring beetles.

9. American Three-toed Woodpecker

American Three-toed Woodpecker
American Three-toed Woodpecker

The American three-toed woodpecker is similar to the black-backed woodpecker probably because of their toe similarity (three-toed) which can make it hard to distinguish the two. They almost look the same.

The primary difference is probably the size, this bird is smaller than the black-backed woodpecker to the point that an average observer could tell the uniqueness. The yellow cap on the top of the head is also more prominent in the black-backed woodpecker.

Traditionally, the American three-toed woodpecker is included in the same category as the Eurasian three-toed woodpecker. The separation was made due to two small differences between the two and also their native location.

10. Williamson’s Sapsucker

Williamson’s Sapsucker
Williamson’s Sapsucker

Williamson’s sapsucker is a medium-sized woodpecker residing in Mexico, Britain, Columbia, but also in the united states. There are also a lot present in the new york state inhabiting woodlands rich in conifers, pine, and types of firs.

This type of woodpecker is one of the rare ones being able to migrate all the way to Mexico in small flocks, they mostly resemble the American three-toed woodpecker except for the lack of a yellow cap. This one is not three-toed though.

Its body (primarily the upside) is mostly colored with black including parts of its heads and wings, this is complemented by an occasional white line/spot. There are several white areas scattered throughout the black coloration.

Expert Tip: It doesn’t have a yellow cap like the American three-toed woodpecker but it does have a yellow belly that can make it stand out. This can be used to distinguish it from other similar woodpeckers other than the size of the body.

Lastly, most specimens will have a stint of red running under the line of their beak, unlike any woodpeckers that would have one in their heads. During the flight, the yellow and white coloration can be mostly seen, however, the black color is the more dominant when the woodpecker is perched on a tree.

Are there woodpeckers in upstate New York?

Woodpeckers are from the family of Picidae, they have strong beaks/bills that they used for drilling holes in trees with their long stick tounges for extracting food such as larvae and other small insects.

The beaks of these birds have three layers of materials which can only be mainly found in woodpeckers which is why their beaks can are strong enough to scratch a deep wound on the skin of humans since there have been incidents of woodpecker attacks on people who visit the urban parks in New York.

Woodpeckers love to live in habitats such as urban parks which New York has a wide range of areas of urban parks and yes woodpeckers are living in New York and they are usually 9 species, but the most common species and has lived all year long is the downy woodpecker they are considered to be the smallest in North America.

Are there red-headed woodpeckers in New York?

Are there red-headed woodpeckers in NY?

Red-headed woodpeckers are those birds with redheads, black tails and backs, and white wingtips and bellies that peck at the wood in search of food, they live in much of the United States including the Rocky Mountains, many may wonder if there are red-headed woodpeckers in NY?

The answer is there are many are the birders who detect the presence of these relatives of Woody in New York throughout the year, although more abundant in the summer months because at the end of winter and beginning of spring begin to build their nests for females to lay eggs and take turns with the males in incubation.

Expert Tip: These friendly birds hide the food they catch as grasshoppers and other insects on the roofs of houses and buildings in the city.

Populations of these birds have been declining by a significant percentage throughout the United States, including New York, due to habitat destruction and hunting.


There are a total of 10 woodpecker species that one can see in the new york state, they are typically hanging out in the woodlands in order to find food in form of insects and fruits. They have a shared quality. Most of them will have a black upside (a certain species with brown) and white patterns/spots scattered throughout their body.

There are also those that have a red or yellow cap, along with a belly that may distinguish a specific species from other woodpeckers.

How about you? What are your experiences with species of woodpeckers in New York? Feel free to comment below if you have anything that you want to share. Also, if you have any questions about this topic the comment section is a way for it to be answered.

A lot of interesting angles might not have been discussed in this article, the comment section is a way to bring attention to it.

To reiterate, there are a total of 10 woodpecker species in new york, namely the Hairy Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Red-headed Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Black-backed Woodpecker, American three-toed Woodpecker, and the Williamson’s sapsucker.

They make up the new york woodpecker population.

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About Grace Hocker

Hi, my name is Grace and I am a pet lover. Ever since 5 years old, I've owned some sort of pet from Bearded Dragons to Rabbits. I have dedicated my life to helping pets, and am here to help you get the best for your pet!