species of woodpeckers in washington state

11 Species Of Woodpeckers In Washington State

species of woodpeckers in washington state

The lush forests of Washington State are home to a rich variety of wildlife, including some of the Species of  Woodpeckers in Washington State, stand out with their vibrant plumage and rhythmic drumming echoing through the trees.

 With 11 unique species gracing the region’s diverse landscapes, these avian architects have mastered the art of survival in this picturesque corner of the Pacific Northwest.

 From the flashy Red-headed Woodpecker to the elusive Black-backed Woodpecker, join us on a journey through Washington’s woodlands as we uncover the secrets and marvels of these enchanting feathered friends.

Woodpeckers in Washington state

Woodpeckers are a common and fascinating sight in the forests of Washington state. With their distinct drumming sounds and vibrant colors, these birds leave no doubt that they have arrived.

 But did you know that woodpeckers play a crucial role in maintaining forest health? Their pecking behavior serves multiple functions, including foraging for food and creating nest cavities. 

In fact, many other animal species rely on old woodpecker holes as shelter. This demonstrates how interconnected ecosystems truly are.

One interesting fact about woodpeckers in Washington is their ability to drum at remarkable speeds. Known as drumming, this behavior is not just for making noise; it actually serves as a form of communication between the birds.

 Each species has its own unique rhythm, allowing them to establish territory and attract potential mates from afar. 

Observing the harmony of drumming patterns among different woodpecker species can be likened to listening to a symphony of nature—a testament to the complexity and beauty found within our forests.

1. Hairy woodpecker

Hairy woodpecker

The Hairy Woodpecker is a fascinating species found in the dense forests of Washington. 

Its length is 7.1-10.2 inches, weight is 1.4 – 3.4 oz, and wingspan is 13.0-16.1 inches.

This particular woodpecker stands out with its black and white plumage and notably longer bill compared to its close cousin, the Downy Woodpecker. Although they may appear similar at first glance, the Hairy Woodpecker boasts a larger size and more robust stature.

One interesting fact about these woodpeckers is their feeding behavior. While foraging for insects, they use their strong bills to drill into tree bark, creating neat rows of perfectly round holes.

 As they excavate these small cavities, they uncover tasty meals hidden beneath the surface. This not only benefits the woodpeckers themselves but also plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy forest ecosystems by keeping insect populations in check.

It’s also worth noting that Hairy Woodpeckers are extremely adaptable birds. Despite being primarily associated with mature forests, they have been observed exploring suburban areas and even city parks in search of suitable food sources. 

2. Northern flicker 

Northern flicker

One of the most iconic woodpeckers found in Washington is the Northern flicker.

 Its length is 11.1-12.2 inches, weight is 3.9-5.67 oz, and wingspan is  16.5-20.1 inches.

 With its vibrant plumage and distinctive call, this species never fails to catch the eye and captivate bird enthusiasts.

 What sets the Northern flicker apart from other woodpeckers is its feeding behavior. While many woodpeckers rely on drumming or pecking into trees to find insects, the Northern flicker prefers foraging on the ground, using its sharp bill to dig into anthills.

Interestingly, this unique feeding habit has led to some fascinating adaptations in their anatomy.

 Different to other woodpecker species that have stiff tail feathers for support while clinging to tree trunks, the Northern flicker possesses a more flexible tail that assists in maintaining balance when foraging on uneven terrain.

 Another interesting fact about this bird is that it often consumes berries and fruits alongside its insect-dominated diet – a habit not commonly observed among woodpecker species.

Throughout the time many people associate woodpeckers with forested areas, the adaptable nature of Northern flickers means they can thrive in a range of habitats including parks, yards, and urban areas. 

3. Pileated woodpecker

Pileated woodpecker

Species of Woodpeckers in Washington state are a common sight in the dense forests , but one species stands out with its remarkable appearance and intriguing behavior – the pileated woodpecker.

 With its striking red crest, sleek black body, and vibrant white stripes on its wings, it’s hard to miss this magnificent bird.

 Growing up to 19 inches in length,weight is 8.8-12.3 oz, and its wingspan is  26.0-29.5 inches. The pileated woodpecker is one of the largest woodpeckers in North America. Its size alone is enough to captivate any observer.

One interesting aspect of the pileated woodpecker is its feeding behavior. While most other woodpeckers forage primarily on trees for insects or sap, this impressive species also enjoys feasting on ants found on the forest floor. 

Their strong beaks allow them to easily excavate holes and crevices in search of these tiny creatures. This behavior sets them apart from their more arboreal relatives and demonstrates their adaptability when it comes to finding a meal.

The presence of pileated woodpeckers indicates a healthy forest ecosystem since they rely heavily on large trees with cavities for nesting sites.

 These cavities not only serve as a home for these birds but also become valuable shelter for other wildlife, such as owls or small mammals like squirrels.

4. Downy woodpecker 

Downy woodpecker

One of the most charismatic and beloved species of woodpeckers in Washington state is undoubtedly the Downy Woodpecker.

 Growing up with the length of 5.5-6.7 inches, weight  0.7-1.0 oz, and wingspan  9.8-11.8 inches, Downy woodpecker With its striking black-and-white plumage and small size, this species fascinates both birdwatchers and casual nature enthusiasts alike.

 Despite its tiny stature, the Downy Woodpecker possesses an impressive knack for finding food sources hidden within tree bark, thanks to its specialized bill that acts as a powerful chisel.

Another remarkable characteristic of the Downy Woodpecker is its drumming behavior.

 Males use this unique form of communication to establish territory boundaries and attract mates by rapidly tapping their bills against resonant tree trunks. Interestingly, each woodpecker species has a distinct drumming pattern that can be recognized by experienced observers..

Are you visiting Washington state anytime soon? Keep an eye out for the charming Downy Woodpeckers that inhabit this picturesque region. Their striking appearance and extraordinary behaviors make them endearing creatures to observe in their natural habitats. 

5. American three-toed woodpecker

American three-toed woodpecker

One of the most fascinating woodpecker species found in Washington is the American three-toed woodpecker.

 Dissimilar to many other woodpeckers, this unique bird has only three toes instead of the usual four. The missing fourth toe may seem like a disadvantage, but it actually serves a purpose. 

These woodpeckers primarily forage on tree trunks rather than on branches, and their specialized feet allow them to grip the trunk and manoeuvre with great agility.

Another interesting characteristic of the American three-toed woodpecker is its preference for burnt or recently dead trees. While other woodpeckers typically seek out live trees for nesting and foraging, this species thrives in areas affected by wildfires or insect outbreaks. 

By taking advantage of these disturbed habitats, they play an important role in regulating insect populations and aiding forest regeneration processes.

Despite their unique adaptations and ecological significance, American three-toed woodpeckers face several conservation challenges. Loss of suitable habitat due to logging activities and fire suppression practices pose major threats to their populations.

 Efforts should be made to protect these birds’ preferred habitats through sustainable forest management practices such as controlled burnings that mimic natural wildfires.

6. Black-backed woodpecker


The Black-backed Woodpecker, a fascinating species found in the forests of Washington, is truly a sight to behold.

Its length is 9.1 inches, weight is 2.1-3.1 oz  and wingspan is 15.8-16.5 inches.

 Sporting a distinct black back with white spots and a striking yellow crown, this woodpecker stands out among its feathered counterparts.

 However, it’s not just their striking appearance that makes them notable; these woodpeckers play a crucial role in maintaining forest ecosystems.

One interesting characteristic of the Black-backed Woodpecker is its preference for disturbed or burned forests. While many other bird species may avoid these areas, the Black-backed Woodpecker thrives amidst the devastation.

 They have evolved to specialize in finding hidden insect larvae in charred trees, contributing to the overall health and regeneration of post-fire landscapes.

Furthermore, research suggests that these woodpeckers have developed an extraordinary adaptation to withstand harsh conditions. Their unique beak structure allows them to chisel into hard bark more easily than other woodpecker species. 

This advantage enables them to exploit resources that would be inaccessible to most birds, demonstrating remarkable resilience and adaptability.

Next time you venture out for a nature walk in Washington’s wilderness, keep an eye out for this magnificent creature – you never know what secrets they might reveal about our natural world.

7. Williamson’s sapsucker

Williamson’s sapsucker

The Williamson’s Sapsucker is a unique woodpecker species found in Washington state. With its distinct black and white plumage, this bird stands out among the other woodpeckers in the region.

 What sets it apart even further is its feeding behavior. While most woodpeckers drill into tree trunks to extract insects or sap, the Williamson’s Sapsucker drills shallow holes into trees to create sap wells.

 These wells are not only a source of food but also serve as a means of communication between males and females during breeding season.

Apart from their feeding habits, another fascinating aspect of these woodpeckers is their breeding strategy. Unlike many other birds that build nests each year, Williamson’s Sapsuckers reuse their nest cavities repeatedly.

 This might seem like an efficient choice, but it comes with consequences. The repeated use of old nests makes them more susceptible to predators such as squirrels or owls who may have learned over time where to find these valuable resources.

  • length: 8.3-9.8 in
  • weight: 1.6-1.9 oz
  • wingspan: 13-15 in

8. Lewis’s woodpecker 

Lewis’s woodpecker

The Lewis’s Woodpecker, a unique and fascinating bird found primarily in western North America, is renowned for its striking physical appearance.

 With an average length of 10-11 inches and weighing around 3 ounces, this species showcases a distinctive color palette of dark purples, greens, and reds. Its wingspan can reach up to 18 inches, contributing to its graceful flight as it effortlessly glides through the air.

When it comes to their diet, Lewis’s Woodpeckers possess an eclectic taste. While they predominantly feed on insects like ants and beetles, they also indulge in fruits and nuts during the warmer months.

 However, what sets them apart from other woodpecker species is their tendency to catch flying insects in mid-air using their acrobatic skills rather than pecking at tree trunks. This adaptation allows them to be successful foragers across a variety of habitats.

Despite being quite an extraordinary bird visually and behaviorally, unfortunately populations of Lewis’s Woodpecker are declining due to habitat degradation and loss caused by human activities such as logging or urbanization.

 The continued conservation efforts are crucial to protect these magnificent birds that bring charm and gracefulness wherever they go in our forests and woodlands.

9. Red-naped sapsucker 

Red-naped sapsucker

The Red-naped sapsucker is a striking bird found in western North America.

 Although small in size, measuring around 8-9 inches in length and weighing about 1-2 ounces, it has an impressive wingspan of approximately 16-18 inches. 

One cannot help but be captivated by its unique physical appearance – with a black back and wings, a red nape on its head that extends to its throat, and a white belly.

This awe-inspiring creature’s diet mainly consists of tree sap and insects. Using its specialized bill, the sapsucker drills small holes into trees to extract sap, which also serves as food for other birds during migration seasons.

 What sets this species apart is their ability to maintain sap wells throughout the year rather than just during the breeding season like other woodpeckers.

Although there are many fascinating aspects of this bird’s life cycle and behavior, one particularly intriguing aspect is how their feeding habits affect ecosystems. 

The sapsuckers’ drilling activity not only provides sustenance for themselves but also creates essential habitats for other animals such as hummingbirds and bats that rely on the sap wells they create.

10. White-headed woodpecker 

_White-headed woodpecker

The white-headed woodpecker, known by its scientific name Picoides albolarvatus, is a fascinating bird species that can be found primarily in mountainous regions of western North America. 

What sets this woodpecker apart from others is its unique physical appearance. With a black body and wings contrasting against a striking white head, the white-headed woodpecker stands out among its feathered counterparts.

 It measures approximately 9-10 inches in length, weighs around 2 ounces, and has an impressive wingspan of about 17 inches.

Their diet consists mainly of insects such as beetles and ants but they also feed on pine seeds during winter when insects are scarce. Placed among the most stoic of their kind, they tend to forage quietly through forests with an air of serenity. 

Unlike most woodpeckers that excavate trees looking for food or creating nests, the white-headed variety often searches on the ground or go after prey hidden beneath bark crevices with their powerful bills.

11. Red-breasted sapsucker 

The red-breasted sapsucker, scientifically known as Sphyrapicus ruber, is a striking bird that can be found in western North America. 

With an average length of 8 inches and weighing about 1.5 ounces,  wingspan of around 16 inches it may seem small compared to other birds, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in vibrant beauty.

 This stunning woodpecker species boasts a signature red head and breast, contrasted with a black throat patch and white belly. Apart from its physical appearance, the red-breasted sapsucker’s behavior is equally intriguing.

 Unlike many woodpeckers that rely solely on insects for sustenance, this remarkable bird has developed a unique diet centered around tree sap. It creates rows of small holes across the bark using its chisel-like bill, allowing the sap to flow freely.

 While feeding on this sugary liquid rich in carbohydrates and minerals, the sapsucker also consumes insects attracted to it. This adaptation not only sets them apart from their relatives but also showcases their resourcefulness in finding food.

One fascinating aspect of this species is their wingspan; although they are relatively small-bodied birds with an average wingspan of around 16 inches or less than half their body length – which allows manoeuvrability within dense forests .

 They have impressive aerial skills during courtship displays or territorial disputes when they engage in acrobatic flight patterns showcasing their agility and gracefulness.

Are woodpeckers protected in Washington state?

In Washington state, woodpeckers are indeed protected under the law. The State of Washington recognizes the importance of these unique birds in maintaining the ecological balance of its forests.

As such, it has implemented strict regulations to ensure their population remains healthy and thriving.

The primary legislation providing protection to woodpeckers in Washington is the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) Administrative Code.

According to this code, it is illegal to hunt, trap, or otherwise harm woodpeckers without a valid permit. This includes harming or destroying their nests or eggs.

Woodpeckers face numerous threats, including habitat loss due to deforestation and urbanization. By protecting their habitats and imposing restrictions on human interference, Washington state aims to conserve these remarkable birds for generations to come.

So if you happen to spot a woodpecker in your backyard or hiking through one of Washington’s scenic forests, rest assured knowing that these beautiful creatures are protected by law.

 Take a moment to marvel at their tap-tap-tapping behavior and appreciate how they contribute to the biodiversity of our environment.

Are woodpeckers protected in Washington state?

Woodpeckers are a common sight in Washington state, but can you shoot them legally?

 The answer is no. Woodpeckers are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which makes it illegal to harm or kill these birds without a permit. 

Although woodpeckers can cause damage to trees and buildings with their incessant pecking, there are alternative methods to deter them without resorting to violence.

One effective way to deter woodpeckers from causing damage is by installing bird netting or reflective tape on the affected areas. These deterrents can make it difficult for woodpeckers to access their preferred pecking spots and can also create visual disturbances that discourage them from visiting..

It’s important to remember that woodpeckers play an essential role in the ecosystem by controlling insect populations and creating nesting cavities for other bird species.

 Instead of resorting to shooting or harming these remarkable creatures, exploring non-lethal deterrent methods ensures a harmonious coexistence with woodpeckers while preserving Washington state’s diverse wildlife population.

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Final words

In conclusion, woodpeckers play a crucial role in Washington’s ecosystem, contributing to the health of forests and controlling insect populations.

 However, they also face numerous challenges such as habitat loss and climate change. It is essential for us to take action to protect and preserve their habitats, ensuring that these beautiful birds continue to thrive.

 By supporting initiatives that promote sustainable forestry practices and conservation efforts, we can make a difference in preserving the woodpecker populations in Washington for future generations to enjoy. 

Let us all come together and be the voice for these remarkable creatures, advocating for their protection and creating a sustainable environment for them to flourish.

Together, we can ensure that the rhythmic drumming of woodpeckers remains an integral part of Washington’s natural.

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