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10 Amazingly Colourful Woodpeckers and their Beautiful Allies

Updated on December 31, 2018

Colourful, Beautiful and Lively Birds


Have you ever observed and been impressed by small, beautifully coloured birds perching upright on tree trunks and tapping or chiseling wood in search of insects, their favorite food? As a nature lover, perhaps, you might have observed a few or many in forested areas and, if you are lucky, in your backyard as well. These are woodpeckers or other members of their family called Picidae.

This is a big family with nearly 200 species which are found in wooded areas worldwide except Australia, New Guinea, New Zealand and Madagascar.

Stay with me to have a closer look of 10 amazingly beautiful woodpeckers and their allies which I have showcased in this Hub.

#1. Pileated Woodpecker

Dryocopus pileatus
Dryocopus pileatus | Source
Mated Pair
Mated Pair | Source

Pileated Woodpecker is quite large, of the size of a crow. It has a large range spreading from Central Canada, covering west of the USA to California as well as the east coast to Florida. Mature forests and heavily wood parks are their favourite habitat. They are found on fallen trees or even standing dead or deteriorating trees for nesting and roosting. They are monogamous and believe in maintaining their territory.

The plumage of this species is mostly black but it is striking and memorable due to triangular red crest on the crown and zebra stripes running along its face and neck. The chisel-like bill is very long and powerful. Adult males have a red line from the bill to the throat but it is black in the case of females.

Their diet mainly includes insects including carpenter ants and they dig deep holes for gaining easy access to wood-boring insects like termite and beetle larvae.

#2. Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Melanerpes aurifrons
Melanerpes aurifrons | Source

Golden-fronted Woodpecker is found in Oklahoma and Texas in the United States, through eastern mexico to Honduras and Nicaragua. It habitats in open to semi-open woodlands and brushlands.

This medium to large-sized woodpecker has black and white barred back, orange nape and yellow fore-crown. Only Male have red cap.

It nests on tall trees like pecan, oak but also uses telephone poles and fence posts for the purpose. It consumes wild fruit and nuts. It also diets on insects including beetles and ants.

#3. Hispaniolan Woodpecker

Melanerpes striatus
Melanerpes striatus | Source

Hispaniolan Woodpecker is endemic to the Greater Antillean island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean and is found in Haiti and Dominican Republic. It is found in wet and dry forests, pines and palm trees, coffee plantations and mangroves. The species believes living in social groups moving around gardens and forests. They are known as pests having capacity of damaging crops.

They are very attractive with black and yellow stripes coverage on their back, red-crown and nape which is more prominent in males. They have black tail though the tail base is red and the tail feathers are very stiff. Their eyes vary from white to pale yellow.

They eat insects including ants, beetles, butterflies and spiders. They also eat fruit and seeds.

#4. Acorn Woodpecker

Melanerpes formicivorus
Melanerpes formicivorus | Source

Acorn Woodpeckers are found on the slopes and mountains of California and the southwestern parts of United States and western Mexico and northern Andes of Colombia. They prefer living in oak and mixed oak-conifer forests. They prefer having a home in the urban parks and suburban areas having plenty of oak trees.

They are medium-sized clown-faced woodpeckers. They are black and white with red crowns, creamy-white face, white eyes and white patches at wing and rump. They usually have some green feathers in small parts of their backs.

Their social habits are remarkable. They store large quantities of acorn in holes in the trees for their winter survival and breed cooperatively. They also diet on insects, fruit and flower nectar. While storing huge quantities of scorn they have to deal with the birds of prey who try to steal.

Watch storing of corns and dealing with birds of prey

#5. Northern Flicker

Colaptes auratus
Colaptes auratus | Source
In flight
In flight | Source

Northern Flicker has over 100 common names and is native to Northern America, parts of Central America, Cuba and Cayman Islands. It has a species problem due to overlapping of ranges, migration and interbreeding. Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker is mainly found in eastern parts of North America, whereas Red-shafted Northern Flicker resides mainly in western North America. But there is a large zone in between the two where interbreeding occurs.

They can be seen in open habitats near trees, open woodlands, savannas, forest edges, yards and parks. They can also be observed in mountain forests in the western parts.

They are fairly large woodpeckers and their appearance is quite charming. Their brown plumage is patterned with black spots, bars and crescents. The underparts of their wings and tail feathers are bright yellow on the eastern side and red on the birds from western side. The colour of the feather shafts differentiates between yellow-shafted and red-shafted.

Contrary to the view about woodpeckers they spend most of their time on the ground. They eat insects like ants, flies, butterflies and beetles. But they also consume fruits, berries, seeds and nuts.

#6. Campo Flicker

Colaptes campestris
Colaptes campestris | Source

Campo Flicker has large distribution in South America specially Eastern Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and North-eastern Argentina. Isolated population in Northeastern South America and Amazonia are also found. They prefer open habitat like grassland, savanna, farmland and scrub-land and spend significant part of their lives by hopping and walking on ground.

It is a striking variety of woodpeckers because of colour of head and nape of the neck which are black and golden sides of the head, neck and upper breast. The upper parts are dark brown having unique patterns with narrow light brown and white bars.

It prefers tree holes, termite mounds and earth banks for breeding. They eat ants and termites primarily, though they also consume beetles and grasshoppers.

#7. Red-Breasted Sapsucker

Sphyrapicus ruber
Sphyrapicus ruber | Source

Red-breasted Sapsucker range from southeast Alaska and British Columbia through Pacific coast ranges of western Washington, Oregon and Northern California. They prefer dense mixed and conifer forests for breeding.

They are medium-sized and have red heads with almost entire breasts also red. Upper parts are black barred with white. They have a white lower belly and rump. They have two sub-species. The southern species has white bars on the back but the northern one has yellowish bars.

They nest in dead tree cavities. Their main food is tree sap but they also eat some fruit and insects. They feed their young ones with insects.

#8. Pale-billed Woodpecker

Campephilus guatemalensis
Campephilus guatemalensis | Source

Pale-billed Woodpecker is one of the largest woodpeckers of Central America. Its habitat ranges from northern Mexico to Panama. It prefers staying in evergreen tropical lowland forests though it is also found in tropical deciduous forests.

It is one of the most spectacular woodpeckers with mainly black upper parts but has a heavy ivory or yellowish pale bill. The head and crest of the males are bright red but females have black crest and throat. They are known for their variable nasal chatter.

They search out insects in trees and in the process chip out large holes. They prefer beetle larvae which they feed to the young also. Some are known to be eating berries and other fruits.

#9. Great Spotted Woodpecker


Great Spotted Woodpecker is very common in Southern England. It is finding increasing presence in Ireland and can also be spotted in Wales and Scotland. Believed to be inhabiting in coniferous woodland forests, it is now a garden visitor and can be seen in many parks.

It is black and white with striking red patch underneath the tail. Each wing has a prominent oval-shaped white patch and outer tail feathers are barred. A crimson spot on the nape helps in identifying the males.

Quite popular for drumming in the Spring, they feed on seeds and invertebrates. They excavate a deep nest in the trees.

Enjoy call of Great Spotted Woodpecker

#10. Common Flameback

Dinopium javanense -  Female
Dinopium javanense - Female | Source
Male | Source

Common Flameback is found in India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, Vietnam and Indonesia, Java, Sumatra and Thailand. It habitats in subtropical or tropical dry forests, moist low-land forests and tropical mangrove forests.

It is known for its strikingly distinctive colouration. It has golden plumage with black eye stripes. Males have a red crown but it is black with females. The lower back and the rump are bright-red. The bill is blackish with paler base but short. It has three toes and the eyes are reddish-brown or brown.

They mainly feed on insects and their larvae. They also like other plant products including sap of trees.

Your preference for Woodpeckers

Which of the 10 woodpeckers did you like the most?

See results


Submit a Comment
  • srsddn profile imageAUTHOR


    5 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

    grand old lady, thanks for visiting the Hub. I am glad you liked the video and the hub. Have a nice day!

  • srsddn profile imageAUTHOR


    5 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

    Blond Logic, I am glad you watch woodpeckers. It is interesting to watch them and listen to their calls. Thanks for stopping by and liking images. Have a nice time!

  • grand old lady profile image

    Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 

    5 years ago from Philippines

    The birds are so pretty and the the video about the birds that "hoard" is very interesting. This is a highly informative hub.

  • Blond Logic profile image

    Mary Wickison 

    5 years ago from Brazil

    We live in northeastern Brazil and we get two types of woodpeckers. I often confuse their calls with that of the hawks.

    They are fun birds to watch. You have chosen some beautiful images in your hub.

    Sharing and pinning

  • srsddn profile imageAUTHOR


    5 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

    Lady Guinevere, I am glad you liked the pictures and you take interest in woodpeckers. They are really cute and lovable. Thanks for visiting and have a nice day!

  • Lady Guinevere profile image

    Debra Allen 

    5 years ago from West By God

    I loved all your pictures. We have Pileated and Downy woodpeckers in our woods. We also have another species but I did not see it here or know what it is just yet. My neighbor said that there was another species. Great hub!!

  • srsddn profile imageAUTHOR


    5 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

    Thanks, Rajan. I am glad you liked the Hub. Any nature lover will enjoy gift of nature like colourful woodpeckers. Have a nice day.

  • rajan jolly profile image

    Rajan Singh Jolly 

    5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

    Amazingly beautiful birds, lovely pictures and a wonderful write. This hub is a treat to read and see.

  • CraftytotheCore profile image


    5 years ago

    What a beautiful Hub about woodpeckers. We love to watch the woodpeckers in our yard. I love the video about the woodpecker storing corn. So interesting!

  • The Examiner-1 profile image

    The Examiner-1 

    5 years ago

    Great Hub srsddn. I have had several woodpeckers in my backyard in two states - NJ & GA. One of them is the Northern Flicker. I think that it follows me everywhere. :-) Neat photos. The Common Flameback is the first woodpecker which I have heard of having only three toes instead of the four. Voted up, shared and pinned.



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