Maryland woodpeckers cover all five native woodpecker genera adding up to seven different species. Traditionally the number was eight species.
North America’s most diverse woodpecker genera, Picoides, records nine separate species. Maryland use to host three of those species.
According to the Maryland Biodiversity Project,
The last accepted Maryland Red-cockaded Woodpecker record was of a pair from May 1974 photographed at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, MD by Brooke Meanley and Matt Perry. There have also been four subsequent southern Maryland MD reports; two from the late 1970s and two from the 1980s. (These four reports were either not reviewed or were not accepted, but that doesn’t mean that some or all of the reports were not valid.)
The current seven species are more or less common around the state. All seven can also be seen in Baltimore.
Woodpecker popularity partially comes about because they enjoy living in and around residential areas. That makes them great photography subjects.
The smallest and most common Picoides, the Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) adapts equally well to most wilderness and residential areas with trees.
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.
Compare the picture of the Hairy Woodpecker with the Downy. Other than the lare bill, 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.
Flickers (genus Colaptes) rank as one of the most common woodpeckers in the United States. They have a presence in every single state, and they adapt to residential areas with little trouble.
The East Coast variant is named the Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker. The color designation refers to the under the wing color of their tail and wing feathers. They are the ground feeders of the woodpecker family, and 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 black mustache on the cheek.
Popular birds, they are welcome at many back yard feeders and especially enjoy a snack of suet and water. 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, and while they are not abundant, they can often be found throughout most of Maryland. There are also ample examples of their being enticed to backyard bird feeders.
Red-bellied woodpeckers are larger than average birds with an outgoing personality. They easily adapt to backyard feeders across Maryland 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 has not red crown, however 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 rank as the most wide spread of the Melanerpes species, with a presence in almost every state from the Rocky Mountains and destinations east. 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.
Maryland Woodpeckers: Sapsuckers
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 west of the Rocky Mountains.
Males have a red crown and throat. Females only have a red crown. It’s very easy to identify in its East Coast territories.