The warm Georgia climate translates into many common backyard birds. Almost all of the Georgia woodpeckers fit that category.
The state’s woodpecker population consists of eight different species covering all five woodpecker genera. Woodpecker enthusiasts know that Georgia use to host the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, North America’s largest species. However, those same enthusiasts don’t maintain any enthusiasm that the birds will ever be found in the state again.
They also hope that only woodpecker species on the Endangered Species List, the Red-cockaded Woodpecker, does not follow the same route as the Ivory-billed Woodpecker.
Georgia’s population can be found in five different Longleaf Pine regions:
- Fort Benning
- Fort Stewart
- The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge
- The Piedmont National Wildlife Refuge
- Plantations in the Red Hills region of Thomas and Grady counties
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.
The remaining seven woodpecker species can be found throughout the state, including large metropolitan areas such as Atlanta.
Georgia’s only true migratory woodpecker, the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, breeds across Canada from Coast to Coast. Look for it during the winter because like many bird species it flies south during the colder weather.
Males have a red crown and throat. Females only have a red crown. It’s very easy to identify in its East Coast territories. They are not known to be common backyard feeder birds, only occasional.
Flickers are the ground feeders of the woodpecker family. They 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 and especially enjoy a snack of suet and water. The top picture shows one at the feeder. With a life that often exceeds the five year mark, homeowners might expect a long term relationship with any flickers they might attract to the back yard feeder.
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. They prefer mature forests with trees large enough for their nesting and cavity building activity.
Most areas of Georgia fit that description and the bird’s range extends across the eentire state.
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.
Red-bellied woodpeckers abound in Georgia. 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.
As the picture shows, 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.
They belong to the same genus as the Acorn Woodpecker, and like them, they are known to store food in cracks in trees. Their diet also consists of in season fruit, nuts and insects.
Red-headed woodpeckers also inhabit most of Georgia. While population declines have been noticed in their northern most range, they are still fairly abundant in the state.
It’s not difficult to recognize one. The striking red feathers on the head are a real eye catcher.
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.
Georgia woodpeckers also include the very common Downy Woodpecker. It likes backyard feeders in all parts of the state. Put up some suet, and there’s a high probability the Downy will be there.
Physically, the Downy’s black and white feather pattern resembles the slightly larger Hairy Woodpecker. 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 applies to 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.
They are a very common species across the United States because they are adaptable to forests and residential areas alike. Look for them at the backyard feeder.