Arkansas woodpeckers follow a pattern similar to other southern state woodpecker populations. Eight species covering all five native woodpecker genera are present.
Arkansas also bills itself as home to the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, following a rash of media stories about a potential sighting. Ornothologists from Cornell University did and exhaustive search and concluded,
Though no definitive evidence of a surviving ivory-bill population was found during the recent searches, the Cornell Lab continues to analyze search data from the past five years.
Almost fifteen years later, the search for the last of the extinct Ivory-billed woodpeckers continues.
Woodpecker popularity partially comes about because they enjoy living in and around residential areas. That makes them great photography subjects. Share your woodpecker pictures and stories with the community. The button on the left leads to information suited to answering more basic bird identification questions.
Flickers (genus Colaptes), however are not extinct and they are one of Arkansas’ most common woodpeckers. More specifically, it’s home to the Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker. The color designation refers to the under the wing color of their tail and wing feathers.
They are ground feeders that prefer open habitats such as fields and residential areas. because they supply them with their primary food sources such as insects, seeds and berries. The male is distinguished from the female by the red patch on the cheek.
Popular birds, they are welcome at many back yard feeders. As the pictue shows, they especially enjoy a snack of suet and water.
The red crested head and white stripes across the face makes it difficult to mistake the Pileated Woodpecker for any other species. It’s the only species in the Dryocopus genus in the United Sates and probably the largest woodpecker in any area.
Pileated Woodpeckers are habitat adaptable. That fact partially explains their range. With the exception of the Rocky Mountain states and the Midwest, they can be found from coast to coast. They need some dense forested area for habitat. In the West, they prefer old growth habitat and in the East they can adapt to the younger forests.
They are described as both shy and adapted to human environments. Their attitude toward humans probably depends on the particulars of their territory. In instances where they breed and live in non-residential areas, they can be shy. There are also ample examples of their being enticed to backyard bird feeders.
Arkansas hosts two wide-spread Melanerpes species, the first being the Red-bellied woodpecker. They are larger than average birds with an outgoing personality. They easily adapt to backyard feeders and their loud vocalizations can often be heard through the neighborhood.
Physically, the name red-bellied can be a bit misleading because the stomach feathers have barely a hint of red to them. The back and top of the male’s head is red. The female’s head is buffy and the nape is red.
Like Acorn Woodpeckers, they are known to store food in cracks in trees. Their diet also consists of in season fruit, nuts and insects.
Red-headed woodpeckers rank as the other most wide spread of the Arkansas Melanerpes species. It’s physical appearance translates into easy identification. The head, covered in red feathers, along with a white stomach stands out in a crowded woodpecker field. Both males and females share this feature. Juveniles have brown feathers on the head for their first year.
They enjoy open areas with grasses and woodlands, especially oak dominated areas because the consume acorns. Their propensity for nuts also means they are easily enticed to backyard feeders with suet or other healthy nuts such as sunflower seeds.
Woodpecker enthusiasts with backyard feeders can attest to their gregarious nature. They don’t mind flocking in large groups when food is plentiful. In those times, they can be a bit vocal. In the northernmost area of their range they are a summer resident for breeding and then migrate south for the winter.
The only woodpecker species on the Endangered Species List, the Red-cockaded Woodpecker makes its home in the mostly longleaf pines of Arkansas. Fifteen counties in central and southern Arkansas now have habitat protection to insure that the Red-cockaded Woopecker once again thrives in the state.
Physically it is a medium sized woodpecker with a common barred black and white feathers. A black cap and nape surrounding white facial feathers are the best field identification clues. Males have red stripes across the crown. The were called cockades after a 19th century hat fashion.
Downy woodpeckers are another very common Arkansas woodpecker. Physically, the Downy’s black and white feather pattern resembles the slightly larger Hairy Woodpecker, another Arkansas resident. In instances where size comparisons might not be available, experts suggest examining the bill size in relation to the head size. Downy Woodpeckers typically have small bills.
Everything that is written about the Downy Woodpecker can be written about the Hairy Woodpecker with few caveats. The picture highlights the most important caveat, they have a larger bill than the Downy. Otherwise, the black and white striped face, white belly and back feathers look very similar. Males also have a red crown.
Look for them at the backyard feeder.
Arkansas Woodpeckers: Sapsuckers
Last but not least of the Arkansas woodpeckers are the Sapsuckers. You know, the woodpeckers that drill holes into trees to consume the sap.
The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is the most far ranging of all the native sapsucker species. It breeds across Canada from Coast to Coast and in the winter returns to most forested areas of Arkansas.
Males have a red crown and throat. Females only have a red crown. It’s very easy to identify in its East Coast territories. There might be some overlap with the Red-naped Sapsucker territory. The presence of red feathers on the back of the neck differentiates the Red-naped Sapsucker from the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.
They are not known to be common backyard feeder birds, only occasional.