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Woodpeckers In Georgia – 8 Species Native To Georgia

Woodpecker species you can see in Georgia

Georgia is a beautiful state for birdwatching, but do woodpeckers live there too? Yes, actually, woodpeckers are some of the most common birds in Georgia!

In Georgia, eight species of woodpeckers have been found, seven of them common. Go birding in Georgia; it won’t be long before you see Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Downy Woodpeckers, and others!

How many woodpeckers have you seen in Georgia? Were you able to identify all of them?

This list of the most common woodpeckers in Georgia will help!

 

Most Common Woodpeckers in Georgia

According to eBird data, our list shows the eight most common woodpeckers of Georgia.

Related: Birds of Georgia

To help identify these handsome birds and learn where you can see them, we also included information about their behavior and key field marks.

 

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Scientific name: Dryobates pubescens

Length: 6.75 inches
Wingspan: 12 inches

Downy Woodpeckers are small, cute woodpeckers with black and white plumage. They have bold markings on their heads, black and white wings, and white underparts.

Male Downy Woodpeckers have a small red patch on the back part of their head. Females look like males but lack this red patch, and young birds have red on the top of their heads.

See more: Woodpecker species in the U.S.

This small bird is common in all sorts of wooded habitats. They like to use their small beaks to peck into twigs and often forage with flocks of chickadees and other birds.

This beautiful little woodpecker is also a regular visitor to backyards and can live in urban areas with lots of trees. They also come to bird feeders, especially ones that offer suet and peanuts.

Key identifications:

  • Downy Woodpeckers are smaller than all other woodpeckers in North America. They are nearly as small as a House Sparrow.
  • This species has a short and stubby beak (for a woodpecker).
  • Downy Woodpeckers have small dark markings on their white outer tail feathers.

 

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Scientific name: Melanerpes carolinus

Length: 9.25 inches
Wingspan: 16 inches

Red-bellied Woodpeckers are bold birds with a long, dark, chisel-like beak, and backs with zebra-like barring. They also have black and white bars on their long, closed wings, and a bold white rump with some black speckling.

Despite their name, it’s really hard to see the red on this bird’s underparts! Although they do have a bit of red or reddish-orange, it’s hidden on the lower part of their belly. The rest of their underparts and face are a pale gray-buff color, and they have a bit of orange above their beak.

Male Red-bellied Woodpeckers have bright red on their crown and nape. Females only have red on their nape and young birds only show a bit of orange on the back of their head.

We see pairs of this common woodpecker species in all sorts of woodlands. As long as big trees are present, they can even live in urban areas, and often come to feeders.

Key identifications:

  • In most of their range, Red-bellied Woodpeckers are the only woodpecker species that has zebra-like, black and white barring on their back and wings.
  • Red-bellied Woodpeckers have a pale face and red on their nape.
  • This species has plain buff-gray underparts.

 

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

Scientific name: Dryocopus pileatus

Length: 16.5 inches
Wingspan: 29 inches

Pileated Woodpeckers are really big woodpeckers. These hefty birds are nearly the same size as an American Crow!

If the Ivory-billed Woodpecker is actually extinct, that makes the Pileated Woodpecker the biggest woodpecker in North America.

These unmistakable woodpeckers are mostly black with a thick white line on each side of their neck, and a white throat.

They also have a red crest and a long, grayish beak. Males have a small red moustache, while females have a black line that extends from their beak to their neck.

Pileated Woodpeckers also have a small white patch on the upper part of each wing. It’s easier to see this mark and the white underwings when the big woodpecker takes flight.

This fantastic woodpecker lives in forests and woodlands with lots of big, mature trees. For that reason, we don’t usually see them in urban areas. However, they can visit feeders at houses next to or within forest!

Key identifications:

  • In most places, Pileated Woodpeckers are the only big black and white woodpecker with a red crest.
  • This species has a small white patch near the tip of each upperwing. They also have white wing linings.
  • Pileated Woodpeckers have a lot of white on their face and a completely black back.

 

Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-headed Woodpecker

Scientific name: Melanerpes erythrocephalus

Length: 9.25 inches
Wingspan: 17 inches

Red-headed Woodpeckers are beautiful, medium-sized woodpeckers with a completely deep red head. Adults of both sexes look alike and have a sharp gray bill, and bright white underparts.

Their upperparts are glossy black with a snow-white rump, and big white patches on their wings. Juvenile Red-headed Woodpeckers have a similar plumage pattern but have a gray-brown head, and some dark markings on their wings and underparts.

This striking bird prefers semi-open habitats with mature oaks, snags, and other big trees. We see them on golf courses, at the edges of rivers and other wetlands, and other places with similar-looking habitat.

In some places, this beautiful bird also occurs in urban areas, especially in the southeastern USA.

Red-headed Woodpeckers like to peck into trees like other woodpeckers, but they also catch insects in flight. With that in mind, we often see them sallying into the air from tall snags next to open areas.

Key identifications:

  • Red-headed Woodpeckers are the only woodpecker species in eastern North America with an entirely red head.
  • This species has a unique wing pattern with big white patches on the base of each wing.
  • The Red-headed Woodpecker has a black tail and an extensive white rump.

 

Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Scientific name: Dryobates villosus

Length: 9.25 inches
Wingspan: 15 inches

Hairy Woodpeckers are medium-sized, black and white woodpeckers with a fairly long and sharp beak. They have a bold black and white pattern on their head, white back, black rump, and black and white wings.

Hairy Woodpeckers also have white underparts and a pale front. Males have a small red patch on the back of their head, females lack this patch, and juveniles have a red patch on top of their head.

If that description sounds like a Downy Woodpecker, it’s true, these two species look almost exactly the same!

Hairy Woodpeckers only live in places with big, mature trees. We mostly find these woodpeckers in forests, but they can also occur in parks and suburban areas that have lots of big trees. Hairy Woodpeckers can also visit feeders, especially for suet.

Key identifications:

  • Hairy Woodpeckers have noticeably longer beaks than Downy Woodpeckers, and are also larger birds.
  • The Hairy Woodpecker has a big white patch on its back.
  • This species has plain white underparts and clean white outer tail feathers.

 

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker is one of the most common woodpeckers in Ohio

Scientific name: Colaptes auratus

Length: 12.5 inches
Wingspan: 20 inches

Northern Flickers are big, unique, gray and tan woodpeckers with bold white rumps. They have buff underparts with black spotting and a bold black patch on their chest, and fine black barring on their back and wings.

This species has some differences depending on where they live. In Georgia, these woodpeckers are considered to be the Yellow-shafted sub-species – they have a small red spot on their nape and a black mustache mark (males). Eastern birds also have bright yellow underwings.

Meanwhile, western birds are called Red-shafted Flickers; they have grayer heads, and males have a red mustache. They also have reddish on their underwings.

Northern Flickers love parks, golf courses, and other semi-open habitats. In such places, we often see them in bounding flight, or perched on the ground as they forage for ants. These noisy birds also make laughing calls and “wicka-wicka” vocalizations.

Key identifications:

  • In most of their range, Northern Flickers are the only woodpecker with gray and brown plumage.
  • This species has a gray crown and fine black barring on its tan-colored back.
  • Northern Flickers also have a black chest patch and black spotting on their underparts.

 

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker

Scientific name: Sphyrapicus varius

Length: 8.5 inches
Wingspan: 16 inches

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are pretty, medium-sized woodpeckers with white shoulders. They have a black and white face, black chest, and uneven black and white barring on their backs.

This woodpecker species has pale yellow on its underparts, small black markings on its sides, and a red patch on its head.
Males also have a red throat bordered with black while females have a white throat. Juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers look like adults but are more dingy gray-brown, and lack red on their heads.

This migratory species likes to peck rows of small holes in deciduous trees. It drinks the sap that comes out as well as insects attracted to the sap.

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers breed in northern and montane forests, and spend the winter in Georgia. They can be spotted in parks and a variety of woodland habitats.

Key identifications:

  • Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are the only woodpeckers in most of their range with white shoulders.
  • This species has a black chest and uneven barring on its sides.
  • The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker has lots of uneven, mottled black and white barring on its back.

 

Red-cockaded Woodpecker

Red-Cockaded Woodpecker

Scientific name: Dryobates borealis

Length: 8 inches
Wingspan: 14.2 inches

Red-cockaded Woodpeckers are smallish, black and white woodpeckers with black and white barring on their backs. They have a big white patch on each side of their head, a thick black mustache mark, and white underparts with small black markings on their sides.

Despite their name, it’s pretty hard to see the red on this bird! It takes a close, careful look to see the small red spot on the male’s head.

Red-cockaded Woodpeckers are locally common at scattered sites in the southeastern USA. They used to be much more common but declined as old-growth forests were logged throughout their range. Georgia is one of the few places to see these birds, but even then, they are hardly ever spotted.

This species lives in small social groups and requires mature Longleaf Pines for nesting. Unlike other birds, Red-cockaded Woodpeckers only nest in live pines because the resin or pine sap that comes out of their holes helps protect their nests from snakes.

Key identifications:

  • Each side of the Red-cockaded Woodpecker’s head is mostly white. Unlike several other black and white woodpeckers, it does not have a black line going back from the eye.
  • This species has black and white barring on its back.
  • Red-cockaded Woodpeckers have small black markings on their sides.

 

Woodpeckers in Georgia – Frequently Asked Questions

Are woodpeckers common in Georgia?

Yes, woodpeckers are common in Georgia; they are common birds throughout the state.

What is the most common woodpecker in Georgia?

The most common woodpecker in Georgia is the Downy Woodpecker. According to eBird sightings, this species is found more than any other woodpecker species.

Do woodpeckers stay in Georgia in the winter?

Woodpeckers stay in Georgia in the winter, too! None of the resident woodpecker species in Georgia migrate south for the winter.

About the Author

Patrick O'Donnell

Patrick O'Donnell has been focused on all things avian since the age of 7. Since then, he has helped with ornithological field work in the USA and Peru, and has guided many birding tours, especially in Costa Rica. He develops birding apps for BirdingFieldGuides and loves to write about birds, especially in his adopted country of Costa Rica.

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