12 Woodpeckers in Kansas Species You Have to See

Woodpeckers in Kansas are an iconic part of the state’s ecosystem, playing a vital role in the natural and urban habitats they inhabit. Woodpeckers throughout Kansas, from the western plains to heavily forested areas near the eastern border.

The most common species in Kansas is the Red-bellied Woodpecker, which has a light gray back with red streaks down its neck. They can be seen pecking away at trees for food or nesting cavities, and they also eat insects like grasshoppers and caterpillars.

Different types of Woodpeckers in Kansas

Kansas is home to various woodpecker species, many of which are found in urban and rural areas. Woodpeckers can be identified by their distinctive shapes and colors.

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpeckers in Kansas

The downy Woodpecker is a small and beautiful bird found throughout Kansas. This species of Woodpecker is the smallest in North America and has a black body with white stripes along its wings and back. The head of the downy Woodpecker also features a red patch on both males and females.

Downy woodpeckers are commonly found in forests, parks, yards, orchards, and other natural areas with trees to feed on. They primarily eat insects that they find under tree bark or in the crevices of trees. They may also feed on nuts, berries, sap from tree branches, and bird seed placed out by human feeders.


• Scientific Name: Dryobatespubescens
• Length: 5.5–7 inches
• Weight: 0.7–1.2 ounces
• Wingspan: 10–12 inches

Hairy Woodpecker

 hairy Woodpeckers in Kansas

The Hairy Woodpecker is a common sight in Kansas. This black and white bird is often pecking trees, searching for food. It has a long bill that it uses to search crevices in the bark of trees looking for insects. The Hairy Woodpecker can be found year-round in Kansas, but there are more sightings during the winter when other birds migrate out of the area.

In addition to its distinctive appearance, the Hairy Woodpecker is also known for its loud call, which can be heard up to 100 feet away. Its diet consists mainly of insects such as beetle larvae and ants, but it will also eat berries and nuts if it finds them. They build their nests by excavating holes into dead wood or tree trunks, sometimes using their strong beaks to break through even hardwood.


• Scientific Name: Dryobatesvillosus
• Length: 7–10 inches
• Weight: 1.5–3.5 ounces
• Wingspan: 13–17 inches

Northern Flicker (aka Yellow-Shafted Flicker):

Woodpeckers in Kansas

The Northern Flicker (Colaptesauratus) is a vibrant and beautiful bird native to Kansas. It is also known as the Yellow-Shafted Flicker due to its yellowish feathers on the wings and tail, which are especially visible in flight. This species of Woodpecker can be found throughout most parts of North America, and it is a common sight in Kansas during the summer months.

The Northern Flicker gets its food mainly by foraging on lawns or open fields, but it occasionally feeds from trees and shrubs. They mostly eat insects such as ants, beetles, grasshoppers, and even spiders; however, they also eat fruits from plants like wild cherries and raspberries.


• Scientific Name: Colaptesauratus
• Length: 11–14 inches
• Weight: 3–6 ounces
• Wingspan: 17–21 inches

Red-Headed Woodpeckers in Kansas

Red-Headed Woodpeckers in Kansas

The red-headed Woodpecker is a beautiful bird native to Kansas and the surrounding region. This distinctive black and white avian with its striking redhead is an iconic sight in the state’s woodlands and grasslands, particularly during summer. It is a medium-sized bird, about the size of a robin, but with distinctively barred wings and back. While it may be rarely seen outside Kansas, its unmistakable call can often echo through even urban areas.

This species has been found in many habitats throughout its range, including open deciduous forests, edges along streams or rivers, suburban parks and gardens, and farmsteads. They feed primarily on insects such as beetles and caterpillars but eat fruits like wild grapes or berries when available.


• Scientific Name: Melanerpeserythrocephalus
• Length: 7.5–10 inches
• Weight: 2–3.5 ounces
• Wingspan: 16–17 inches

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Woodpeckers in Kansas

The red-bellied Woodpecker is a bird native to the United States and can be found in many states, notably Kansas. This species has vibrant black, white, and red colors, making it an attractive feathered friend for the locals.

The red-bellied Woodpecker lives in deciduous forests and woodlands throughout the state. It typically builds its nests in dead trees or stumps but also inhabits birdhouses or natural cavities when they are available. These birds are commonly seen during spring and summer as they search for food on the trunks and branches of trees.

The diet of these birds consists mainly of insects such as ants, beetles, caterpillars, flies, and wasps; however, they will occasionally eat fruit as well.


• Scientific Name: Melanerpescarolinus
• Length: 9–10.5 inches
• Weight: 2–3 ounces
• Wingspan: 15–18 inches

Williamson’s Sapsucker

Williamson’s Sapsucker Woodpecker can be found in the natural landscape of Kansas. This bird species is easily recognizable with its black and white plumage, red crown, and yellow belly. It has one of the most distinct drumming sounds of any woodpecker species, making it popular among bird watchers.

This species is a primary cavity nester, meaning the woodpeckers use dead trees for nesting purposes. During the mating season, you can find them flocking to areas with more trees than usual due to their need for food from sap wells made by other birds. In addition to being an essential part of nature’s balance within forests and habitats, these birds also provide imperative pollination services when searching for food sources.


• Scientific Name: Sphyrapicus thyroids
• Length: 8–10 inches
• Weight: 1.5–2 ounces
• Wingspan: 16–17 inches

Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker

The Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker is a unique bird found in the grasslands and woodlands of eastern Kansas. It has a distinctive black and white striped plumage, an orange-red crown, and two yellow stripes across its chest. Residents of Kansas may be familiar with the sight of these birds as they feed on tree sap during the winter months.

They provide food for other birds, such as woodpeckers and wild turkeys, who feed on their larvae from trees drilled into by the sapsuckers. In addition to this role in the food chain, they also contribute to maintaining healthy forests by drilling holes into mature trees, which helps improve air circulation and allows light to reach further down into the forest floor, enabling new growth.


• Scientific Name: Sphyrapicusvarius
• Length: 7.5–8.5 inches
• Weight: 1.5–2 ounces
• Wingspan: 13.5–16 inches

Red-Naped Sapsucker

The Red-Naped Sapsucker is a unique species of Woodpecker native to the central regions of North America. It can be found in several states, including Kansas. This colorful bird has a distinctive black and white striped back and a bright red crown. The belly is yellow and grey, and the wings are barred with white stripes.

The Red-Naped Sapsucker nests in cavities of dead trees or limbs that they drill into using their substantial bills. These birds feed primarily on tree sap, insects, berries, and other small animals they find while drilling holes into the bark of trees. During winter, they are often seen feeding on tree buds or stripping bark off trees for food storage.


• Scientific Name: Sphyrapicusnuchalis
• Length: 7.5–8.5 inches
• Weight: 1–2.5 ounces
• Wingspan: 16–17 inches

American Three-Toed Woodpecker

The American Three-Toed Woodpecker is a species of Woodpecker found throughout North America. This bird has been spotted in Kansas, where it is one of the most commonly seen types of woodpeckers. The American Three-Toed Woodpecker is a medium-sized bird with black and white feathers and a bright red patch on its head. It has three distinctive toes on each foot to help it cling to trees as it feeds and nests.

This species feeds mainly on insects, such as beetles, ants, and caterpillars, that live in tree bark crevices. In addition to climbing up trees using their sharp claws and long beaks, they eat nuts and berries from branches or out of the ground. They use their beak to hammer into dead trees or fallen logs for food.


• Scientific Name: Picoidesdorsalis
• Length: 7.5–8.5 inches
• Weight: 2–2.5 ounces
• Wingspan: 14–15 inches

Ladder-Backed Woodpecker

The Ladder-Backed Woodpecker is a species of bird found in North America. The Ladder-Backed Woodpeckers in Kansas can be seen in many areas, including woodlands and fields with trees. This bird is one of several members of the woodpecker family that can be spotted in the state.

The Ladder-Backed Woodpecker has black and white feathers and red stripes on its head. It also has a ladder-like pattern on its back, which gives it its name. The wingspan of this bird typically reaches up to 11 inches, while its body size averages 4 to 5 inches from head to tail. They make their home by pecking holes into dead trees for nesting sites and foraging for food such as insects and small fruits like berries.


• Scientific Name: Dryobatesscalaris
• Length: 6.5–7.5 inches
• Weight: 0.7–1.7 ounces
• Wingspan: 13–14 inches

Pileated Woodpeckers in Kansas

Pileated Woodpecker in Kansas

The majestic Pileated Woodpecker is a common sight in the forests of Kansas. This black, white, and red bird can often be seen searching for ants and other wood-boring insects on tree trunks and snags. The Pileated Woodpecker is the largest North American Woodpecker, measuring between 16 and 19 inches long and having a wingspan of up to 30 inches. Its distinct call can be heard from miles away across the Kansas countryside.

The Pileated Woodpeckers found in Kansas are year-round residents that make their homes in mature forests or forest edges near open fields. They typically nest in dead trees or decaying stumps, creating cavities that can be used by other species, such as owls or squirrels, during the winter months.


• Scientific Name: Dryocopuspileatus
• Length: 16–19 inches
• Weight: 9–14 ounces
• Wingspan: 26–30 inches

Lewis’s Woodpeckers in Kansas

The Lewis’s Woodpecker is a medium-sized woodpecker native to North America. It is mainly found in the western United States, from California to Kansas. This species has recently made its way eastward and can now be spotted in Kansas.

This brightly colored bird usually nests in cavities dug into dead trees or tree stumps. But it also uses artificial structures like telephone poles for nesting sites. The Lewis’s Woodpecker feeds on insects, berries, and other fruits, as well as seeds obtained by prying open bark crevices and probing the ground for food items with its long bill. Its diet may include small mammals and reptiles, such as mice or lizards.


• Scientific Name: Melanerpeslewis
• Length: 10–11 inches
• Weight: 3–5 ounces
• Wingspan: 19–20.5 inches

Sum Up

The Woodpeckers in Kansas are an invaluable part of the state’s ecology and should be protected. Through conservation efforts, Kansans can ensure that the Woodpecker remains a part of the state’s natural environment for years to come. As climate change continues to take its toll on bird populations worldwide, we must pay attention to our local species and take steps to preserve them.

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