Eight Mississippi woodpeckers delight people all around the state. Of course there are times when their presence in the neighborhood is less than delightful. The Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker fits that description.
They are a very common species in residential areas. People know them as the woodpeckers that walk on the lawn searching for ants and other insects, their food of choice. Unfortunately some people also know them as he woodpeckers who find the walls of their house a perfect drum. These residents soon discover that their constant drumming on the walls can be a bit annoying.
Apart from the annoyance, woodpeckers are still very popular. They enjoy living in and around residential areas. That makes them great photography subjects. Share your woodpecker pictures and stories with the community.
Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers probably rank as the bird with the second highest annoyance factor. The fact that they drill wells in trees to feed on the sap causes concerns for some homeowners afraid that their trees might suffer permanent damage.
Males have a red crown and throat. Females only have a red crown. It’s very easy to identify in its East Coast territories.
When it comes to the Picoides species, the people of Mississippi generally change their feelings from slight annoyance to slight concern. That’s because they host the Red-cockaded Woodpecker, the only woodpecker species on the Endangered Species List. It makes its home in the mostly longleaf pines of the Southern United States.
Habitat encroachment severely limited their range and breeding capabilities. Look for them at the DeSoto National Forest in Mississippi.
Mississippi’s two remaining Picoides species, the Downy and Hairy woodpeckers are common throughtout the state. They also look very similar.
Downy Woodpeckers, the smaller of the two, have a smaller bill. The picture shows a female without the red crown.
A comparison of the Hairy and Downy woodpecker pictures shows that the Hairy woodpecker has the larger bill. Otherwise, the black and white striped face, white belly and back feathers look very similar. Males also have a red crown.
Both species are comfortable in forests and residential areas alike. Look for them at the backyard feeder.
Mississippi’s Pileated woodpecker population has been habitat adaptable, finding in home in the younger forests and woodlots that dot the state, including some residential areas.
As a result of their adaptability, many people have become reacquainted with Pileated woodpeckers. 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.
Finally, Mississippi also hosts the two Melanerpes species most common in the South, the Red-bellies and the Red-headed woodpeckers.
Red-bellied woodpeckers do have red feather patches on their head. Males have them on the head and down the nape of the neck. Females only have them on the nape of the neck. The stomach feathers have a slight hint of red to them
They are larger than average birds with an outgoing personality, evident at the back yard feeder.
With a head entirely covered in red feathers, along with a white stomach, it’s easy to identify the Red-headed woodpecker. 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.