In the state of Texas, there are 14 different species of Woodpeckers that you may see. These species are:
- Williamson’s Sapsucker
- Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker
- Red-Naped Sapsucker
- Lewis’s Woodpecker
- Acorn Woodpecker
- Golden-Fronted Woodpecker
- Red-Bellied Sapsucker
- Downy Woodpecker
- Ladder-Backed Woodpecker
- Red-cockaded Woodpecker
- Hairy Woodpecker
- Pileated Woodpecker
- Northern Flicker
Six of these different species are native to the state of Texas.
Texas has a varied climate that changes depending on the region. Most of the state has a continental climate or sub-tropical climate.
This means that the state has arid winters and very humid summers. There are 80 different state parks in Texas and there are only 2 national parks. One of the most common places in Texas to go and look for Woodpeckers is in the Eastern Texas Pineywoods.
Now that we’ve looked at where to see woodpeckers in Texas, let’s have a look at each of these woodpecker species in more detail.
What Woodpeckers can be seen in Texas?
Table of Contents
1. Gold-Fronted Woodpecker
Small insects, can be drawn to feeders with oranges and jelly
There are four different subspecies of this woodpecker and they are identifiable by the golden patches of feathers on their head, necks and bellies. The rest of their bodies are largely covered with pale grey feathers.
Whilst there is not a lot known about the behaviour of this woodpecker, it is known that they prefer to nest in open woodland areas.
Their breeding behaviours have not been studied but they appear to nest in holes of trunks or dead trees and their egg clutch tends to be around 4-7 eggs.
This is one of the most common species of woodpeckers in the state of Texas. Their range spans across most of the state, primarily in the central areas of Texas. They are year-round residents but their most active seasons are not yet known.
2. Red-bellied Woodpecker
The red bellies of these woodpeckers are pale in comparison to the red feathers on their heads. Their backs and are striped with black and white feathers.
These birds like to stay in wooded areas but will sometimes branch out to wooded suburbs. During the breeding season, males will pick a site for the nest and begin to excavate it, their nests are usually in dead trees and trunks.
Males will call and tap on the tree to try and attract a female and when she accepts the courting she will tap on the tree in unison with the male. They will make their nests in the same tree year after year but will often use a different cavity, they lay about 2-6 eggs per brood.
These birds are year-round residents in Texas and have a large range across the eastern area of the United States. In Texas, they are most abundant in the east and the north east areas of the state and they are more likely to be heard calling and pecking in the breeding seasons.
3. Downy Woodpecker
3.27 to 4.13 inches
0.75 to 1 ounce
Insects & Non-insect arthropods
These birds have pale bellies and dark wings with a tiny patch of red on the back of their heads. Downy Woodpeckers are a small species of woodpecker most commonly found in open areas of woodlands, usually in ones close to rivers and streams.
Males will begin their courtship rituals in the spring months and they will attract females by flying between trees and fluttering their wings to look almost like a butterfly. They will nest in either fully dead trees or in the dead parts of living trees.
The Downy Woodpecker is a year-round resident in Texas but they cannot be seen across the whole of the state. They can only be seen in the north and north east areas of Texas with some sightings ranging further south along the eastern coast.
4. Red-cockaded Woodpecker
Eggs, insects, nuts, seeds & fruit
These birds, despite their name, are covered almost completely in black and white feathers. It is only the males that have any red on them and the small patch of red is barely visible.
They prefer to make their nests in open woodland areas, particularly in pine forests if they can. Rather than being solitary like lots of woodpeckers, these birds live in small families of two to five and do not consist of more than one female.
There is one breeding pair in the group and they remain monogamous and mate for life. The other males help protect and defend their territories and the female.
These birds only have a small range in Texas, but they stay in those small areas year-round. They are most active in the breeding seasons and are found across the eastern border of the state but they have had sightings close to the south of the state.
5. Hairy Woodpecker
1.4 to 3.4 ounces
Wood-boring insects & tree sap
These medium sized woodpeckers have dark wings and backs and pale bellies. They have an orangey red patch of feathers on top of their head. They make their nests in woodlands with medium or larger sized trees.
As well as a courtship display, these woodpeckers have a conflict display that males will do to other males of the species. They raise their wings over their back and make a shrill cry to warn to other individual that conflict may ensue.
Making their nests in tree cavities, they have one brood per breeding season, and this consists of 3-6 eggs.
These birds are year-round residents in Texas, but they do not have a large range across the state. They are only found in the east and the north east regions of the state.
6. Pileated Woodpecker
26 to 30 inches
8.8 to 14.1 ounces
Fruit, nuts & insects
These birds have a black belly as well as black wings and backs. Their necks are white and they have a large amount of red on top of their heads. These large sized woodpeckers are found in coniferous woodlands, usually mature woodlands.
They make their excavations in dead trees and they are rectangular which is not common for woodpeckers. During the breeding season, these birds remain monogamous and often breed for life.
New individuals are not allowed in a breeding pair’s territories and can usually only enter if they take the place of a deceased member of a breeding pair.
Pileated Woodpeckers can be found across the eastern border of Texas and are found year-round in those areas. However, sightings have been recorded close to the central areas of the state.
7. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
13 to 16 inches
1.5 to 1.9 ounces
Tree sap, insects & fruit
Yellow Bellied-Sapsuckers are a small species of woodpecker with stout bills. These woodpeckers have bold black and white feather patterns with red crowns, they have pale yellow feathers on their bellies which is where they get their names.
In the summer months these woodpeckers stay in young forests whilst in the winter months they tend to stay in hickory forests.
The courting displays of this bird also closely match the aggressive display that these birds will do to other members of the same sex.
These birds are monogamous during the breeding season and many will form long term breeding pairs, although a few will find different mates every year.
These woodpeckers have a large range that spans across the east of the states. They can be found everywhere in Texas except for in the far west of the state.
They are more frequent in the winter months and can only be seen in Texas outside of the breeding season.
8. Northern Flicker
Insects, seeds, nuts & fruit
The Northern Flicker is a large sized woodpecker with mostly brown feathers. They have a spotted belly and patches of red on their face and their tail.
These birds like to stay in open wooded areas and will sometimes nest in city parks and suburbs. Unlike most woodpeckers, these birds spend most of their time foraging for food on the ground.
To attract a female, two males will sometimes compete in what is called a ‘fencing duel’ in the presence of a female. They will do this display whilst emitting a call that sounds like wicka.
These birds will reuse the cavities that they have excavated in previous years, although it is not known whether they return to the same mate every year.
These birds can be seen across the whole state of Texas, but they are not year-round residents. They are only seen in the state in winter as they prefer to be further south to deal with the colder months.
The most common sightings of this bird in the winter are in the central areas of the state.
9. Lewis's Woodpecker
Insects & Nuts
This is a medium sized woodpecker and has mostly dark coloured feathers. However in the light you can see that the wing feathers are a greyish green and that this bird has a pale pink belly.
These birds like to breed and nest in pine forests, particularly less dense and more open ones if possible. In the spring and summer months these birds will eat a lot of insects but in the winter they will change their diets to more acorns and nuts.
This species of woodpecker is particularly aggressive and will often confront other species of woodpecker such as the acorn woodpecker. Not a lot is known about the mating habits of this bird, but it is known that males will circle around their nesting tree to attract a female.
These birds only have a small western range and are not very common in the state of Texas.
They are most common in the state outside of the breeding seasons and they have only been spotted in the north and north west areas of Texas.
10. Red-headed Woodpecker
Insects & Berries
As the name suggests, the Red-Headed Woodpecker is known for its bright red head. The rest of its body is mostly covered with white feathers and it has dark grey wings.
They are medium sized for a woodpecker and are most commonly found in open areas of woodlands. During the breeding seasons, courting breeding pairs will play a game of hide and seek with one another around tree stumps and will usually stay together for several years after mating.
These birds are very territorial and both males and females will defend the nesting area. During the winter they stay solitary and are just as defensive of their territories.
They are prey to a lot of different species including raccoons and Peregrine falcons.
These woodpeckers are quite common in the state of Texas and stay in the state throughout both the breeding and winter seasons.
They are most abundant in the eastern and northern areas of the state and will expand their range out to the central areas of Texas during the winter months.
11. Williamson's Sapsucker
The Williamson’s Sapsucker is a medium sized woodpecker that is largely covered in black and white feathers. The males have bright yellow feathers that cover their bellies.
These woodpeckers are most commonly found in woodland areas, particularly in coniferous woodlands. Males are very territorial and will defend their area, which can be up to 10 acres, from other male woodpeckers and they are even more defensive during the mating season.
Williamson’s Sapsuckers are monogamous during the breeding season and some of them will form long term breeding pairs, whilst others will find a different partner in the continuing years. Pairs will raise the broods together and only part after their young have fledged.
This species of woodpecker has a relatively small range across the United States, they are only seen in the state of Texas outside of their breeding seasons.
They may be more frequent in winter when expending their search for food sources. They have only been seen to the north west of Texas.
12. Red-Naped Sapsucker
This species of woodpecker is medium in size and they have bright red caps, napes and throats. The rest of their body is covered in black feathers with small patches of white feathers.
These birds spend most of their time in dense evergreen forests but they have also been known to visit and nest in gardens. Males and occasionally females, will make their readiness to mate known by emitting a unique squeal.
They remain monogamous during the breeding seasons and will return to the same nesting tree year after year. They will sometimes mate with the same individual in continuing breeding seasons but it seems more important for males to mate in the same tree than with the same female.
This species of woodpecker is a year-round resident in the state of Texas, but only in certain regions. They can only be found in the west of the state and their abundance and range increases in the winter months.
They will sometimes leave the state of Texas during the breeding seasons.
13. Acorn Woodpecker
Acorns and Insects
One of the most identifiable traits of Acorn Woodpeckers are their large ‘clown-like’ eyes. They get their names from their behaviours which include stuffing masses of acorns, in the thousands, into specially made acorn holes in trees.
Another identifiable trait of theirs is their distinct parrot like call which sounds akin to waka-waka. Their breeding behaviours are very complex and they stay in cooperative groups to help raise the young.
Some groups will have several pairs of breeding males and females the females will get rid of any eggs in the nest that are present from before she started laying. The other members of the group will slowly proceed to eat this egg then defend the nesting pairs.
These birds are permanent year-round residents in the state of Texas. Their range extends along the western border or the state and also in a few small, southern areas of Texas.
14. Ladder-backed Woodpeckers
These woodpeckers are small in size and their wings and back are covered in ladder patterned feathers of black and white. They have a large patch of red feathers atop their head.
These birds are found in desert habitats but will nest in pine forests in the more southern areas of the states. It is not known what kind of courtship displays these birds do but it is known that pairs appear to reconvene in winter before the breeding season starts in spring.
These birds also seem to be quite aggressive and can be competitive with other males and also other woodpecker species.
These birds can be found across most of the state and they are year-round residents. They are in the least abundance to the far east of the state and in the winter the are sometimes less active but are more likely to branch out to garden feeders.
We are avid bird-watchers who recently retired, allowing us more time to travel the world. Fortunately, we have managed to visit numerous countries around Europe, Asia, and America. Watching and photographing birds has been a passion for many years and we are making the most of the extra time on our hands!