Paradise Birding offers birding tours specializing in seeing woodpeckers. In our home state of Oregon you can see HALF the country's woodpeckers - that's 11 species. We offer both scheduled tours and private tours to visit the various habitats where these species breed and live.
Near the quaint forest hamlet of Camp Sherman, in Oregon's East Cascades, 11 species of woodpeckers nest in an area as small as 100 square miles. Besides the ubiquitous Hairy Woodpecker and Northern Flicker, the region hosts the cream of the western woodpecker crop. All three western sapsuckers are easily found here and the Red-breasted and Red-naped freely hybridize in the region. Lewis’s and Three-toed Woodpeckers generally occupy the eastern and western boundaries, respectively, and Black-backs can be quite common in some burned stands of ponderosa pine or mixed conifer forest. Downy and Pileated do not occur in the abundance they do in the eastern states, but they are both conspicuously present in the right habitats.
Searching for woodpeckers in Central Oregon is most productive from May through July. Visit a wide diversity of forest types, from aspen and willow riparian habitats (especially for Downy and the varius-type sapsuckers) to the subalpine forests of spruce, hemlock, and lodgepole pine (strongholds of the Black-back and Three-toe). The Lewis’s and sapsuckers typically leave the area in fall, but the Black-back and Three-toe can be found while cross-country skiing each winter, along with White-headed, Pileated, Hairy, Downy, and Flicker.
Take the guess work out of finding Oregon Woodpeckers and join one of our Woodpecker Wonderland tours or contact us to design your own custom tour. Read about all 11 Oregon woodpecker species.
Below you will find a variety of magazine articles Stephen Shunk of Paradise Birding has written over the years.
BIRDING MAGAZINE, Puzzling Flickers, Understanding Introgression. March/April 2014. READ ARTICLE.
THE WILDLIFE SOCIETY NEWS, A new forest fire paradigm, The need for high-severity fires (co-authored with 5 others) LINK TO WEBSITE ARTICLE
BIRDING MAGAZINE, Sphyrapicus Anxiety: Identifying Hybrid Sapsuckers ( A 10-page article) READ ARTICLE
BIRD WATCHER'S DIGEST, Species Profile, Northern Flicker. READ ARTICLE
LIVING BIRD MAGAZINE, Lewis's Woodpecker. READ ARTICLE
OREGON CASCADES BIRDING TRAIL (A 32-page guide coordinated by Steve Shunk) VIEW MAP
WINGING IT - Newsletter of the American Birding Association. Woodpecker Wonderland READ ARTICLE.
Steve Shunk of Paradise Birding has been studying woodpeckers since 1998 and has delivered slide show presentations for dozens of bird festivals, annual meetings, birders' nights,private gatherings and for over 50 Audubon Society chapters. For a detailed look at Steve's broad repertoire of program topics download Steve's Bird Presentations then contact Steve as soon as possible to book a presentation for your next event!
Written by Stephen Shunk
Where are the Woodpeckers?
Every state and province in North America (plus the District of Columbia) has hosted at least seven species of woodpeckers, but only two species occur regularly in all states and provinces. One state boasts a woodpecker list of 18 species. Considering that we only have 22 species occurring regularly in North America, this is quite a feat.
Five North American woodpeckers have occurred in five or fewer states or provinces, and some individuals representing five species overwinter south of the Mexican border. Two species are on the review lists for 13 states or provinces and three species are common enough to be absent from all state and provincial review lists.
All 19 states or provinces that have hosted a dozen or more woodpeckers lie west of the Mississippi River.
Among the 22 U.S. states with more than 100 people per
square mile, only one regularly hosts more than nine woodpecker species. Among the 17 states and provinces with fewer than 20 people per square mile, 11 have seen more than nine woodpeckers.
Black-backed Woodpeckers and Fire. Video by the US Forest Service
Black-backed Woodpecker excavating nest hole, California
Video of a woodpecker skeleton
This book is a complete guide to the natural history, ecology, and conservation of North America’s 23 woodpecker species. From the iconic Woody Woodpecker to the ubiquitous Northern Flicker, woodpeckers have long captivated our attention.
Get your copy of the Peterson Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North America.
Many species of woodpeckers are threatened with extinction throughout the world, from Africa and Saudi Arabia to South America and Borneo. Even our own Red-cockaded Woodpecker is at risk. Click HERE for Steve's list of the world's most endangered woodpeckers. Paradise Birding is committed to helping to preserve species at risk and is scheduling special woodpecker tours that support conservation projects. Learn more about our upcoming Woodpecker Conservation tours to the Caribbean and Borneo.
Written by Stephen Shunk
Does the Ivory-billed Woodpecker still live in the few remaining southeastern swamps? It depends on whom you ask. But better yet, go look for yourself. Explore the bayous of northwestern Florida or southeastern Arkansas, and make your own judgment. Immerse yourself in the habitat that remains, and just be present where the Ivory-bill once flew with abandon. While you are there, support a local conservation organization that is working to restore Ivory-billed Woodpecker habitat; whether or not you have helped save the last Ivory-bill, you have benefited many other species that also depend upon the same habitat. Experience the southern hospitality and tell the locals you are there to enjoy their birds. Visit with the three eastern “red” woodpeckers, the Red-headed, Red-bellied, and the imperiled Red-cockaded. In one way or another, you will experience the presence of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. Just don’t forget your camera.
Woodpeckers play a keystone role in their biological communities by excavating nest cavities in dead trees that other species of birds (and even some mammals) later use. Over 40 species are dependent upon the excavation activities of woodpeckers for their survival. The problem lies in the fact that many land owners consider dead and dying trees as a hazard and cut them down, thus removing critical habitat for these dependent species.
The Cavity Conservation Initiative is a southern California program whose mission is to encourage the retention of dead and dying trees to help birds that nest in tree cavities as well as all wildlife species that rely on such trees.