Woodpeckers in Pennsylvania: Top 8 Species You May Come Across

Woodpeckers in Pennsylvania are some of the most exciting birds to observe. The species found in this state are of various colors and sizes. For example, the Red-headed Woodpecker is one of the easiest to identify with its unique red head and white body.

They feed on insects such as ants, beetles, and caterpillars that they hunt for underneath the bark or inside the crevices of trees. Their diet also includes larvae, nuts, and fruits in birdfeeders or tree branches. Woodpeckers help keep insect populations in check while providing entertainment through their exciting behavior, such as nest-building and drumming on trees to attract mates.

Different Species of Woodpeckers in Pennsylvania:

If you’re looking to observe a variety of woodpeckers in the Pennsylvania area, you won’t be disappointed! Pennsylvania has many species of woodpeckers that call it home.

Downy Woodpecker

Woodpeckers in Pennsylvania

The Downy Woodpecker is a small, black-and-white bird native to Pennsylvania. It can be found in all the states and is one of North America’s most common woodpecker species. They have a distinctive black-and-white pattern on their feathers, making them easy to identify from other species.

Downy Woodpeckers eat insects, nuts, seeds, and fruits found on trees or the ground. They also visit backyard bird feeders, where they often come into contact with humans. During the breeding season, these birds nest in tree cavities and sometimes use nest boxes provided by humans if available.


• Scientific Name: DryobatesPubescens
• Length: 5.5–7 inches
• Weight: 0.7–1 ounce
• Wingspan: 10–11.8 inches

Hairy Woodpecker

Woodpeckers in Pennsylvania

The Hairy Woodpeckers in Pennsylvania are a small but essential bird species. This unique bird can be found in the state’s forests, parks, and backyards. Its large size most easily identifies it as up to 9 inches long—and its distinctive black-and-white plumage.

The Hairy Woodpecker is an omnivore, eating insects, fruits, and seeds. Its diet consists mainly of beetles, ants, and other invertebrates that it digs out of tree bark with its long bill. The woodpeckers enjoy suet or peanut butter placed on feeding platforms and feeders and nectar from flowers such as thistles or dandelions. These birds are strong flyers who migrate south for the winter months when food sources become scarce in Pennsylvania.


• Scientific Name: Dryobatesvillosus
• Length: 7–10.2 inches
• Weight: 1.4–3.4 ounces
• Wingspan: 13–16.1 inches

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Woodpeckers in Pennsylvania

The red-bellied Woodpecker is an iconic Pennsylvania species and one of North America’s most widespread woodpeckers. Its distinctive bright red head and back, black wings, bold white stripes, and loud call make it a recognizable bird to many amateur birdwatchers. It can be seen across the state in forests, parks, yards, and fields, usually foraging for insects on trees or searching for food on the ground.

The red-bellied Woodpecker has adapted well to Pennsylvania’s climate, making it a common sight during all seasons. It is listed as a species of most minor concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to its extensive range and healthy population numbers visible throughout Pennsylvania.


• Scientific Name: Melanerpesarolinus
• Length: 9.4 inches
• Weight: 2–3.2 ounces
• Wingspan: 13–16.5 inches

Red-Headed Woodpecker

Woodpeckers in Pennsylvania

The Red-Headed Woodpeckers in Pennsylvania are iconic species. This large black and white bird with a bright red head, wings, and tail feathers is easily recognizable in the state’s forests, parks, and backyards. The Red-Headed Woodpecker is considered a species of particular concern in Pennsylvania due to its declining population over the past few decades.

This Woodpecker can be found throughout much of the eastern United States, from Florida to Maine. Still, it has been slowly disappearing from Pennsylvania due to the loss of habitat caused by logging, development, and invasive plant species that decrease food sources for these birds.

Other factors, such as competition for nesting cavities from different species, have also led to their decline. Conservation efforts are underway across the state to help protect this essential bird species and their habitats so they can continue to thrive in Pennsylvania for generations.


• Scientific Name: MelanerpesErythrocephalus
• Length: 7.5–9.1 inches
• Weight: 2–3.2 ounces
• Wingspan: 16.5 inches

Pileated Woodpeckers in Pennsylvania

Woodpeckers in Pennsylvania

The Pileated Woodpecker is one of the most iconic species in Pennsylvania. Native to the eastern United States, this striking black and white bird has been a resident of Pennsylvania since the last Ice Age. With its booming call and impressive size, it can be seen throughout the state in woodlands, wetlands, and residential yards.

The male has a striking red crest on its head, distinguishing it from other Pennsylvania species. They feed mainly on ant and beetle larvae, which they find trapped beneath tree bark or in decaying logs. Their powerful beaks can also create nesting cavities and provide homes for other cavity-nesting birds, such as bluebirds and owls.


• Scientific Name: Dryocopuspileatus
• Length: 15.8–19.3 inches
• Weight: 8.8–12.3 ounces
• Wingspan: 26–29.5 inches

Northern Flicker

Woodpeckers in Pennsylvania

The Northern Flicker, a large and attractive woodpecker native to Pennsylvania, is essential to the state’s ecosystem. With its bright red-orange chest and black necklace, this species stands out amongst other birds in Pennsylvania. It is a beautiful bird and incredibly beneficial for local environments as its primary diet consists of ants and beetles, which helps keep insect populations balanced.

These colorful birds live throughout forests and open areas across the state. They can often be found in yards with tree cover or on telephone poles near roadsides. Because they are ground feeders, they will drill small holes into lawns during their food search, causing some property damage but mainly acting as an agent of pest control.


• Scientific Name: ColaptesAuratus
• Length: 11–12.2 inches
• Weight: 3.9–5.6 ounces
• Wingspan: 16.5–20.1 inches

Black-Backed Woodpecker

Woodpeckers in Pennsylvania

The Black-backed Woodpecker is a species that can be found in Pennsylvania. This large woodpecker species is known for its loud, raucous call and wide range of habitats throughout the state. The bird’s bold black and white plumage makes it a striking sight in any forest, and its habit of drumming on trees is unmistakable.

The Black-backed Woodpecker inhabits mature forests with plenty of dead trees, providing the perfect place to find food and make their nests. The woodpeckers feed mostly on carpenter ants but consume other insects such as bark beetles, flies, caterpillars, and spiders. They play an essential role in keeping these insect populations in check, helping to maintain healthy forest ecosystems.


• Scientific Name: PicoidesArcticus
• Length: 8.6–9.4 inches
• Weight: 2.1–3 ounces
• Wingspan: 16 inches

Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker

Woodpeckers in Pennsylvania

The Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker, an iconic bird species native to North America, is an exciting sight for many birdwatchers in Pennsylvania. This Woodpecker is known for its distinctive black and white plumage, with yellow accents on its throat and breast. From March through October, the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker can be found throughout Pennsylvania, making it a popular draw for birders and nature enthusiasts.

These fascinating birds are most commonly spotted near forests or wooded areas, where they feed on sap from trees and insects such as ants and beetles. The males sport a bright red patch on their heads used in courting displays during mating season. Males may also peck at objects like tree trunks or branches to create loud drumming noises that echo through the forest to attract mates.


• Scientific Name: SphyrapicusVarius
• Length: 7.1–8.7 inches
• Weight: 1.5–1.9 ounces
• Wingspan: 13.4–15.8 inches


Woodpeckers in Pennsylvania are an integral part of the state’s natural beauty. Their presence can be traced back to the earliest accounts of the region, and their importance to the environment is well documented. Various habitats and resources sustain the Woodpecker population, but it now faces threats from human activity.

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