10 Woodpeckers of Oregon

10 Woodpeckers of Oregon

Nestled within the enchanting landscapes of Oregon, a diverse and captivating woodpecker community thrives. Known for their rhythmic drumming and vibrant plumage, these skilled percussionists bring a symphony of sounds to the ancient forests of the Pacific Northwest.

In this article, we embark on a fascinating journey to discover the remarkable woodpeckers that call Oregon home. From the majestic Pileated Woodpecker to the elusive Lewis’s Woodpecker, we delve into their unique characteristics, ecological importance, and the conservation efforts ensuring their continued presence in Oregon’s wilderness.

1. Downy Woodpecker

  • Scientific name: Picoides pubescens
  • Life span: 2-5 years
  • Size: 6-7 inches
  • Weight: 1 oz
  • Wingspan: 13 inches
  • Status: Least concern

The Downy Woodpecker, a small avian found in various regions of North America, including Oregon, features a unique black and white striped head pattern and a short, chisel-shaped bill. In flight, its black dorsal feathers, white ventral feathers, and wing markings become evident.

This bird plays a vital role in the forest ecosystem by controlling insect populations and aiding in seed dispersal. With its lively movements, observing the Downy Woodpecker brings joy to many nature enthusiasts.

A Downy Woodpecker sitting on a log

The Downy Woodpecker excels in constructing nesting cavities, with both male and female pairs collaborating and using their sturdy beaks to chisel suitable sites in wood. The nest cavity is lined with soft materials for the chicks’ comfort.

This woodpecker’s diet primarily consists of insects, detected by pecking at tree bark, while also sipping sap and consuming fruits, nuts, and seeds.

Although habitat loss has led to declines in some regions, the Downy Woodpecker is currently rated as “Least Concern” by the IUCN. Conservation efforts focus on preserving critical habitats, managing invasive species, and promoting sustainable forestry practices.

2. Hairy Woodpecker

  • Scientific name: Picoides villosus
  • Life span: 5-10 years
  • Size: 7-10 inches
  • Weight: 1.5 oz
  • Wingspan: 16-20 inches
  • Status: Least concern

The Hairy Woodpecker, native to Oregon, boasts a unique black and white plumage, a long chisel-shaped bill, and a distinctive personality. It can be found in various habitats, spanning from Alaskan woodlands to Mexican residential areas, and is known to frequent bird feeders.

Celebrated for its impressive drumming abilities and skill at extracting insects from tree trunks, the Hairy Woodpecker is a favorite among bird enthusiasts and home birdwatchers.

The Hairy Woodpecker sitting in a tree with a snowy beak

The Hairy Woodpecker excavates nest cavities in trees or wooden structures, with both males and females contributing to the excavation using their beaks. The nests are lined with soft materials like wood chips and sometimes contain human-made items such as cigarette filters and clothing fragments.

Feeding primarily on insects, including beetles, ants, and caterpillars, the Hairy Woodpecker searches for food by pecking at tree bark and other wooden surfaces. It also consumes sap, fruits, nuts, and seeds.

While the Hairy Woodpecker is widespread in North America, including Oregon, habitat loss has led to population declines. Conservation efforts are underway to protect this species and its habitats, and currently, it is categorized as “Least Concern” by the IUCN.

3. Northern Flicker

  • Scientific name: Colaptes auratus
  • Life span: 5-8 years
  • Size: 8-10 inches
  • Weight: 2.5 oz
  • Wingspan: 14-16 inches
  • Status: Least concern

The Northern Flicker, a large and distinctive woodpecker species, is found throughout North America, from Alaska to Mexico. It thrives in diverse habitats such as forests, parks, and suburban areas.

Sporting boldly patterned underparts, brownish-red back and wings, and a black bib with a red nape patch, this bird catches the eye. With its long, straight beak, the Northern Flicker displays adaptability by consuming insects, seeds, and fruits. Its lively behavior, drumming, calls, and displays make it a beloved bird among enthusiasts.

A Northern Flicker sitting on a moss-covered branch

The adaptable Northern Flicker is renowned for its nesting behavior, creating cavities in trees or human-made structures. Drumming is a distinctive communication method for this bird, tapping its beak on surfaces to attract mates. Its diet is diverse, including insects, fruits, and nuts, with sap as a winter alternative.

Rated “Least Concern” by the IUCN, its population ranges from 10 to 20 million. While some subspecies face habitat loss, the Northern Flicker thrives in human-modified landscapes and conservation efforts focus on habitat preservation and restoration.

4. Red-Naped Sapsucker

  • Scientific name: Sphyrapicus nuchalis
  • Life span: 7-8 years
  • Size: 7-8 inches (18-21 cm)
  • Weight: 1-1.6 oz (28-45 g)
  • Wingspan: 13-16 inches (34-41 cm)
  • Status: Least Concern

Red-naped Sapsuckers are vibrant woodpeckers found in western North America, spanning Alaska to Mexico. Sporting striking black-and-white striped faces, red napes, and speckled wings, they captivate with their appearance.

These energetic birds derive their name from their unique behavior of drilling small holes in trees to extract sweet sap. Fascinatingly, Red-naped Sapsuckers possess a specialized tongue adaptation enabling them to lap up sap from these tiny wells. Read on for further insights into these delightful avian creatures.

A Red-Naped Sapsucker eating small berries, hanging from the branch

Red-naped Sapsuckers are selective nesters, favouring deciduous trees with clear views for predator monitoring. The male drills small holes in the bark, while the female constructs the nest. These devoted parents fiercely safeguard their offspring.

True to their name, Red-naped Sapsuckers rely on sap as their primary food source. However, they also consume insects, fruit, and pollen to meet their protein needs. Their sap wells can attract other animals, like hummingbirds, which occasionally feed on the sweet liquid.

In Arizona, Red-naped Sapsuckers are categorized as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need. Although their local populations are stable, habitat loss, fragmentation, and climate change pose threats. Conservation efforts, including prescribed fires to promote healthy forests, aim to protect their habitats. As a result, they are considered “Least Concern” by the IUCN.

5. Williamson’s Sapsucker

  • Scientific name: Sphyrapicus thyroideus
  • Life span: 5-6 years
  • Size: 7.5-8.5 inches (19-22 cm)
  • Weight: 1.5-2 oz (45-55 g)
  • Wingspan: 13-15 inches (33-38 cm)
  • Status: Least Concern

The Williamson’s Woodpecker is a stunning bird species found in the southwestern United States, including Arizona. With their striking black and white plumage, bright red cap and throat, and long chisel-like beak, these woodpeckers are a true sight to behold. One fun fact about Williamson’s Woodpeckers is that they are known to use natural drumming sites, such as hollow snags or dead branches, to communicate with each other using unique patterns of drumming.

A Williamson’s Sapsucker sitting in a tree

Williamson’s Woodpeckers excavate nesting cavities in dead trees. The chambers are simple with minimal lining and a small entrance. Excavation takes weeks and is reused for breeding. They lay 3 to 4 eggs, both parents incubate in turns.

These woodpeckers have a diverse diet of insects, fruits, seeds, and occasionally small vertebrates. They extract nectar using their long tongues and drill holes in tree bark to find insects, using their sticky tongues.

While not currently a concern, habitat loss from urbanization and human activities may impact their future. They were once hunted for their feathers, but are now classified as “Least Concern” by the IUCN.

6. American Three-Toed Woodpecker

  • Scientific name: Picoides dorsalis
  • Life span: Up to 9 years
  • Size: 9 inches (24 cm)
  • Weight: 2.1 oz (58 g)
  • Wingspan: 15 inches (38 cm)
  • Status: Least Concern

Meet the captivating American Three-Toed Woodpecker, a unique avian species found across the vast forests of North America. Sporting a distinct black and white plumage with intricate patterns, they catch the eye with their charming appearance.

American Three-Toed Woodpecker

The American Three-Toed Woodpecker is unique among its relatives, favouring nests exclusively in dead trees. With meticulous carving skills, it creates cozy nesting cavities. Multiple nests throughout its lifetime provide options for settling down and raising a family, showcasing its industrious nature and adaptability.

This woodpecker possesses a discerning palate, primarily feasting on a delectable assortment of insects like beetles, ants, and caterpillars. It adds a sprinkle of tree sap to its diet, relishing the sweet and sticky goodness seeping from the bark. This feeding behavior contributes to the ecological balance of the forest ecosystem.

Throughout history, the American Three-Toed Woodpecker has faced challenges from habitat loss and fire suppression. Dedicated conservation efforts aim to protect its unique nesting habitats and promote healthy forest ecosystems. Raising awareness about the importance of dead trees as vital habitat helps ensure the survival of this enchanting woodpecker and other species for future generations.

7. Black-Backed Woodpecker

  • Scientific name: Picoides arcticus
  • Life span: Up to 8 years
  • Size: 9-10 inches (23-25 cm)
  • Weight: 2.5 oz (62g)
  • Wingspan: 16-17 inches (40-43 cm)
  • Status: Least Concern

Introducing the remarkable Black-Backed Woodpecker, an avian marvel inhabiting the forests of North America. With its striking black plumage and a contrasting white belly, it flaunts a sophisticated appearance. Fun fact: These woodpeckers have an exceptional adaptation—specialized nostril feathers that prevent smoke inhalation, allowing them to thrive in fire-prone habitats.

A Black-Backed Woodpecker sitting in a tree

The Black-Backed Woodpecker displays an interesting nesting behavior. It prefers burned or fire-damaged trees as nesting sites, adapting to challenging environments. These resourceful woodpeckers carve out cavities in these trees, providing safe and cozy shelters for their families.

When it comes to food, the Black-Backed Woodpecker has a particular taste. It feeds on wood-boring beetles and their larvae found in burned trees. Using their specialized bills, they skillfully extract these insects hidden beneath the charred bark.

Over time, the Black-Backed Woodpecker has faced challenges due to changing forest management practices. Conservation efforts aim to protect their habitat by preserving fire-dependent areas and promoting sustainable forestry practices. These initiatives ensure a brighter future for these remarkable woodpeckers and the ecosystems they inhabit.

8. Pileated Woodpecker

  • Scientific name: Dryocopus pileatus
  • Life span: Up to 12 years
  • Size: 16-19 inches (40-48 cm)
  • Weight: 9-14 oz (250-400 g)
  • Wingspan: 26-30 inches (66-76 cm)
  • Status: Least Concern

Allow me to introduce the magnificent Pileated Woodpecker, a captivating sight in the forests of North America. With its large size and striking black body, adorned with vibrant red crests, this woodpecker commands attention. Fun fact: Its distinctive drumming, resembling a wild laughter, can echo through the forest, adding a touch of whimsy to its presence.

A Pileated Woodpecker sitting in a tree

Pileated Woodpeckers excavate large nesting cavities in dead trees. These impressive structures provide shelter for their young, displaying their expert carpentry skills.

Pileated Woodpeckers have a varied diet, including insects, fruits, and nuts. They use their powerful bills to excavate tree bark and probe for tasty morsels.

Pileated Woodpeckers have benefited from habitat conservation efforts. However, deforestation and urbanization pose ongoing threats. Conservation focuses on preserving suitable habitats and promoting sustainable forestry practices to safeguard their populations.

9. Red-Breasted Sapsucker

  • Scientific name: Sphyrapicus ruber
  • Life span: 9 years
  • Size: 9-10 inches (23-25 cm)
  • Weight: 1.5-2 oz (45-55 g)
  • Wingspan: 15 inches (38 cm)
  • Status: Least Concern

Introducing the charismatic Red-breasted Sapsucker, a captivating bird found in the western regions of North America. With its striking plumage, featuring a combination of red, black, and white patterns, it catches the eye with its vibrant appearance. Fun fact: These clever birds create unique sap wells that not only attract insects but also serve as an occasional sweet treat for other bird species.

A Red-Breasted Sapsucker looking for insects in a tree

The Red-breasted Sapsucker demonstrates unique nesting behavior, excavating small cavities in trees. The female constructs the nest, while the male helps by drilling sap wells nearby.

The Red-breasted Sapsucker has a diverse diet, feeding on sap, insects, fruits, and occasionally nectar. It creates small sap wells in trees and consumes the sweet liquid, attracting other birds like hummingbirds.

The Red-breasted Sapsucker is not currently a species of concern. However, habitat loss and climate change pose future risks. Conservation efforts focus on preserving their habitats and raising awareness about their importance within forest ecosystems.

10. White-Headed Woodpecker

  • Scientific name: Picoides albolarvatus
  • Life span: 9 years
  • Size: 8-10 inches (20-25 cm)
  • Weight: 2.1-3.5oz (55-62 g)
  • Wingspan: 15-16 inches (38-40 cm)
  • Status: Least Concern

Meet the elegant White-Headed Woodpecker, a stunning avian species found in the western regions of North America. Dressed in a striking combination of black and white plumage, it stands out with its sleek appearance. Fun fact: Unlike most woodpeckers, the White-Headed Woodpecker does not have a red crest, but its snowy white head adds a touch of uniqueness to its captivating presence.

A White-Headed Woodpecker sitting on a dead thin branch

The White-headed Woodpecker constructs nests in dead trees, showcasing its adaptation to unique habitats. It creates cavities for nesting and rearing young, often selecting snags or decaying trees.

The White-headed Woodpecker primarily feeds on insects, particularly beetles, ants, and their larvae. It also supplements its diet with seeds and berries, showcasing its versatility as an opportunistic forager.

The White-headed Woodpecker is not currently considered a species of concern. However, habitat loss and forest fragmentation pose potential threats. Conservation efforts focus on preserving its preferred habitat, promoting forest management practices, and maintaining healthy forest ecosystems.

Where to look for Woodpeckers in Oregon

To catch a glimpse of woodpeckers in Oregon, explore the diverse landscapes where these avian wonders thrive. Look for forests and woodlands, particularly areas with a mix of mature trees, both living and dead.

Dead or decaying trees are prime habitats for woodpeckers, providing nesting sites and abundant food sources.

Four excellent areas for woodpecker spotting in Oregon include:

  • Deschutes National Forest
  • Mt. Hood National Forest
  • Siuslaw National Forest
  • Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.

Patience is key; keep your eyes and ears open, and listen for their distinctive drumming sounds or watch for their eye-catching plumage as they forage and excavate in the trees.


Oregon is a haven for woodpeckers with its dense and lush forests. The state offers plenty of opportunities to roam in its forests looking for these magnificent birds. Of the 17 species of woodpeckers the country has to offer, 10 of them can be found in the state, making it one of the best places to visit if woodpeckers are on your list.

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