9 Different Species of Woodpeckers in Alabama

Woodpeckers in Alabama
Photo by woeger

Woodpecker is a common name for birds that hammer trees with their beaks. This bird has over 200 species worldwide.

However, there are 9 different types of woodpeckers in Alabama. Some are quite common, while others are rare and endangered.

Find out their names and unique characteristics in this article.

1. Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-headed woodpeckers are medium-sized with large, rounded ears, short, stiff tails, and powerful spike-like bills. Adults have bright red heads with white underparts. 

They also have black backs with white patches in the wings, giving the appearance of an entirely white lower back when perched. Immatures have gray-brown heads, and the white wing patches feature rows of black spots near the trailing edge.

In addition to catching insects by hammering at wood, red-headed woodpeckers grab insects in flight and hunt for them on the ground.

They also consume a lot of fruit and seeds. Their raspy calls are sharper and scratchier than those of the red-bellied woodpecker.

Red-headed Woodpeckers live in pine savannahs and other open woodlands with a clear understory. These birds like open pine forests, tree rows in agricultural regions, and standing timber in beaver swamps and other wetlands.

Furthermore, red-headed woodpeckers visit feeders in winter. They eat acorns, corn, seeds, pecans, beach nuts, and many kinds of fruits.

These fruits include pears, apples, cherries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, grapes, mulberries, and poison ivy fruits.

These woodpeckers usually store food and cover it with bark or wood. It hides seeds and insects in cracks in wood, bark, fenceposts, and under roof shingles.

2. Pileated Woodpecker

The pileated woodpecker is also among the types of woodpeckers in Alabama. They’re one of the biggest, striking forest birds on the continent. It has a flaming-red crest and is almost as big as a crow. It is black with prominent white stripes along the neck.

You can find these woodpeckers whacking at dead trees and fallen logs in search of their prey. They always leave a distinctive rectangular hole in the wood.

The nest holes these birds make offer crucial shelter to many species, including ducks, bats, swifts, owls, and pine martens. 

The pileated woodpecker is not a common sight in open regions and does not frequent cities like other woodpecker species. However, you can hear its calling and drum from a long distance.

A Pileated Woodpecker pair remains on their territory all year. It will guard the territory throughout the year but tolerate newcomers during the winter.

Pileated Woodpeckers visit backyard bird feeders in search of suet. In addition to suet, they eat black oil sunflower seeds, hulled sunflower seeds, peanuts, and mealworms. 

You can set up a nest box to attract a breeding pair. Make sure you put it up well ahead of the breeding season. Place a guard to prevent predators from stealing eggs and young.

3. Downy Woodpecker 

Downy Woodpeckers are little versions of the regular woodpecker body plan. These birds are among the woodpeckers in Alabama. 

They have a straight, chisel-like bill, wide shoulders, and a blocky head. Also, They maintain a straight-backed posture while leaning away from tree limbs and onto their tail feathers. The bill appears smaller for the bird’s size than in other woodpeckers.

Downy Woodpeckers have a black-and-white checkered appearance. The upper parts are black with white spots on the wings, the head is boldly striped, and the back has a large white stripe down the center.

Males have a little red patch on the back of their heads. The outer tail feathers are usually white with a few black dots.

Furthermore, downy woodpeckers move higher in the air than larger woodpeckers. They hitch about tree limbs and trunks or drop into tall weeds to feast on galls.

Downy woodpeckers have a unique rising-and-falling flight pattern. They produce a lot of noise in the spring and summer, both with their harsh whinnying calls and by drumming on trees.

You’ll find these woodpeckers in open woodlands, particularly among deciduous trees and weedy edges. They’re also home in the city park, backyards, orchards, and vacant lots.

4. Northern Flicker

Fourth on this list of woodpeckers in Alabama is the northern flicker. These brown woodpeckers have attractive black-scalloped plum mange and a gentle expression. Don’t be surprised if you scare one up from the ground while walking.

Flickers feed on ants and beetles, which they dig up using their unusual, slightly curved bill. When they fly, you may see a dazzling white flash on the rump and a burst of color in the wings – either yellow or red, depending on where you are in the world.

Try strolling in open forests or along forest boundaries to find these woodpeckers. But make sure you scan the ground because you may send a flicker from its feeding spot into a nearby tree.

Pay attention to their piercing howl and their loud, ringing call as well. The constant yammering of hungry nestlings searching for a nest can be heard in the late summer.

Although Northern Flickers don’t visit bird feeders, you can find them in backyards and at birdbaths. You can also encounter these woodpeckers by just strolling along the boundaries of the wooded areas in your backyard. Especially if it has a mix of trees and open space or if it is close to forests.

5. Red Bellied Woodpecker 

The red-bellied woodpecker is among the different types of woodpeckers in Alabama. These pale medium-sized woodpeckers are common in eastern woods.

Their strikingly barred backs and glittering red caps make them a beautiful sight. When you become familiar with the red-bellied woodpecker’s call, you’ll start to see these birds everywhere.

Keep an eye out for this species throughout the year in eastern woodlands. Most importantly, at mid-heights and along main branches and trunks of trees.

You can learn the bird’s call too. Throughout the spring and summer, red-bellied woodpeckers make loud, frequent calls.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers liven up bird feeders with their vibrant colors and entertaining actions. If you live close to any forested areas, you might be able to attract them using feeders stocked with suet, peanuts, and occasionally sunflower seeds.

They have even been seen consuming nectar from hummingbird feeders. Dead trees may encourage birds to forage naturally or even build nests in your yard. In the fall or winter, they may eat berries from hawthorn or mountain ash trees.

6. Red-cockaded Woodpecker

This bird is also among the woodpeckers in Alabama. The once-massive longleaf pine stands in the Southeast are the Red-cockaded Woodpecker’s preferred habitat. Old pines with little to no understory make up its habitat, which was formed by the region’s periodic lightning fires.

The Red-cockaded Woodpecker is a cooperative breeder; it lives in small family units with one breeding pair and several workers.

Usually, the extra birds are the offspring of past breeding seasons. In addition, the helpers provide assistance with feeding, brooding, and incubation.

Additionally, you can find them in stands of loblolly, slash, and other kinds of pine. The birds create cavities in living pines softened by heartwood rot.

They live in family units that cooperate to raise children and dig tunnels. The species’ population decreased as its natural habitat was cleared and listed as endangered in 1970.

Your greatest option for finding this species is in national wildlife refuges, national forests, and other federal preserves that can preserve and manage wide areas of land, as most of its natural habitat has been destroyed by logging. 

Some known nesting places may be prohibited due to the endangered status of the species. Therefore, bird watchers should adhere to these rules.

However, the nesting and foraging locations of these birds are widely known in areas where public access is permitted. A simple conversation with a ranger or manager of a visitor center will quickly put you in the right direction.

If you find yourself in a vegetated area where it is difficult to see the pine trunks, you will likely not find any red-cockaded woodpecker there. Instead, you should search open stands of old pine trees with very little growth in the understory or subcanopy.

7. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 

Yellow-bellied sapsucker is also among the different types of woodpeckers in Alabama. They look sharp in barred black and white, with a red cap and (in males) throat. 

These birds sit still on tree trunks while feeding for extended periods. You can spot one by listening for its loud meowing cries or rhythmic banging.

Also, you may notice rows of little holes in the bark of trees while strolling through a forest. The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is responsible for doing this. It uses its specialized, brush-tipped tongue to gobble up any trapped insects and leaking sap.

The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker uses items made by humans to aid with its territorial drumming. Street signs and metal chimney flashing enhance a territorial sapsucker’s rapid tapping. In addition, sapsucker doesn’t appear to be harmed by whacking its bill on metal.

To find these birds’ territory, watch out for their unique, well-arranged rows of sap wells. Moreover, you may also notice them perched at the tips of tree branches when they are insect hunting. In the spring, pay attention to their unusual irregular drumming and mewing cries.

Furthermore, they cling firmly to trees while calling. If you hear them calling, pay close attention to the trees nearby for their sharply contrasting black-and-white face stripes and the bright red patches on their heads.

8. Hairy Woodpecker

This species is also among the different types of woodpeckers in Alabama. The Hairy Woodpecker is a small but strong bird that forages over massive tree trunks and major branches. It has a significantly longer bill than the Downy Woodpecker, which is nearly thornlike.

Hairy Woodpeckers have a rather soldierly appearance, with their erect, flat posture on tree trunks and striped heads. These birds occasionally drink sap flowing from sapsucker wells in the bark. They’ve also been sighted nibbling into sugar cane to drink the sugary juice.

You can find these woodpeckers by scanning the trunks and main branches of large trees. Also, listen for their sharp whinny or powerful peek call. If you stand quietly while they’re foraging, you can often hear their energetic tapping.

Moreover, if you have dead trees or dead parts of living trees in your yard, it’s fine to leave them standing. A couple of hairy woodpeckers may attempt to start a family there. Their hole could eventually house chickadees, wrens, nuthatches, bluebirds, or flying squirrels.

9. Ivory-billed Woodpecker 

This bird is the third largest woodpecker in the world, but it has been extinct since the middle of the twentieth century. Their severe population decline was due to the destruction of their forest habitats. 


There you have it – the 9 different types of woodpeckers in Alabama. People love them because they’re cute and fascinating creatures. Also, some people enjoy watching them pecking away at trees. Above all, they serve an essential ecological role in controlling insects. Thanks for reading!

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