If you want to see woodpeckers in the wild, central Oregon is your best bet, sporting eleven of America's 23 species of woodpeckers.We are lucky to have Paradise Birding based right here in central Oregon, where if you are lucky, you might see all eleven species in one day. We have provided brief descriptions of each of our local woodpecker species below. You might also want to read my article on woodpeckers of central Oregon to gain a clearer picture of why this area is the perfect habitat for so many species of woodpeckers.
Learn about our woodpecker-focused birding tours in central Oregon.
-Your host and guide, Stephen Shunk
Discovered by and named afterMeriwether Lewis, this is the only North American woodpecker dressed in dark iridescent green. Dark head, back, wings, and tail, with prominent silvery gray collar and upper breast, dark red face, and pinkish or salmon-red lower breast and belly. Mostly fly-catching species.Williamson's Sapsucker
Breeding across montane forests of western North America, the Williamson’s Sapsucker is the most sexually dichromatic woodpecker in the world.
The Red-naped Sapsucker plays a keystone role in forest ecology by excavating cavities that are later used by numerous secondary cavity nesters and by drilling sap wells on which many small birds feed.
Like a black-and-white Popsicle dipped in grenadine, the Red-breasted Sapsucker glows brightly among the coniferous forests of the Pacific states and provinces. With the most limited range of our four sapsucker species, the Red-breasted can be a prize find, especially for birders from eastern North America.
Video of a woodpecker skeleton
The little Downy Woodpecker adorns backyard gardens and parks throughout North America. And this is one tiny woodpecker. Not only is it the smallest on the continent, but the Downy also ranks about eighth smallest among the world’s 180-plus Picinae. Despite the bird's lilliputian appearance, birders from coast to coast know the familiar descending whinny that announces the Downy’s presence.
Ubiquitous, adaptable, and opportunistic, the Hairy Woodpecker epitomizes the North American woodpecker. Coniferous forest landscapes from the Rockies westward frequently support more Hairies than any other woodpecker species.
As if it were dressed for a black-tie dinner, the striking White-headed Woodpecker adorns narrow stretches of pine-dominated forestland from British Columbia to southern California. In the right habitat, the White-headed is hard to miss, but its extreme specialization makes the “right” habitat sometimes hard to find.
American Three-toed Woodpecker
Unpredictable, enigmatic, and reticent, the American Three-toed is for many birders the most sought-after woodpecker on the continent. Rarely is a Three-toed found far from dead or dying timber, whether insect or fire killed, but even in optimal habitat, this quiet little bark beetle specialist can easily go undetected.
One of the handsomest members of the Picidae worldwide, the Black-backed Woodpecker sports a glossy black tuxedo, blending perfectly against the charred boles of burned conifers across its range. On the extreme end of the specialization spectrum, the Black-backed may be the best adapted woodpecker in the world for extracting wood-boring beetle larvae from the cambium of infested trees.
The Northern Flicker is more widespread, more conspicuous, and more abundant than any other North American woodpecker. Ironically, it is the least woodpecker-like of them all. Flickers feed almost entirely on the ground and they eat more ants than any other North American bird.
King-o’-the-Woods; Stump Breaker; Grand Pic; all are nicknames for the sixth largest woodpecker on Earth. Always awe-inspiring, the fortunate glimpse of a Pileated Woodpecker generally comes one of two ways: when it's flying above or high in the canopy with its distinct crowlike flight; or at or near ground level, so focused on collecting ants that it can be closely approached.