8 Stunning Woodpeckers In North Carolina: You Must Know About

Woodpeckers In North Carolina

Woodpeckers are among the woodland and forest species. Toucans, barbets, honeyguides, jacamars, and puffbirds are all members of the Picidae family, as are woodpeckers, wrynecks, and sapsuckers.

The best method to observe Woodpeckers in North Carolina is to go birding in the woods and forests, however, some species, such as Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Hairy Woodpeckers, and Downy Woodpeckers, can be seen at backyard feeders.

Note: If you’re short on time I have compiled a table of all the woodpeckers with identification and their Diet. You can also read about these woodpeckers in detail below.

Woodpeckers in North CarolinaLengthWeightIdentification(Color)Diet/Favorite Food
Red-bellied Woodpecker23-27 cm72 gm (2.5oz)A pale red belly with a red cap b&w stripped back. Insects, spiders, nuts, seeds, acorns, pine cones, grapes, oranges, hackberries, mangoes, sunflower seeds, and peanuts.
Red-headed Woodpecker7.5-9.1 in (19-23 cm)2.0-3.2 oz (56-91 g)These birds have a bright-red head with white underparts, and black backs.Mostly nuts, seeds, fruits, and berries
Pileated Woodpecker15.8-19.3 in (40-49 cm)8.8-12.3 oz (250-350 g)This woodpecker has a black body with white stripes on the face and neck and a flaming-red crest.Mostly insects and flies.
Hairy Woodpecker7.1-10.2 in (18-26 cm)1.4-3.4 oz (40-95 g)These are black and white birds. ; The head of this bird has two white stripes. The black wings are checkered with white.Mostly insects, berries, seeds, and nuts. 
Downy Woodpecker 14-17 cm21-28 gm (0.74-0.98oz)They are b&w in color with patches of red here and there. They are found in woodlots, in backyards, and along streams.Insects, beetle larvae, acorns, berries and grains, black oil sunflower seeds, peanuts, millets.
Northern Flicker 30-35 cm120 gm(4.23oz)Large woodpeckers, with a size in between crows and Robins, with brown body color and black spots, bars, and crescents all over their bodies along with a red nape. They also have hints of yellow on their bodies as well. Black oil sunflower seeds are their favorite.
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker7.1-8.7 in (18-22 cm)1.5-1.9 oz (43-55 g)This woodpecker is black and white with a boldly patterned face. Both males and females have red foreheads, and males also have red throats.Mostly feed on tree sap, Arthropods, fruits, and nuts 
Red-cockaded Woodpecker7.9-9.1 in (20-23 cm)1.5-1.8 oz (42-52 g)This woodpecker is almost black and white, with a large, bright-white cheek patch. At the upper border of the cheeks, males have a tiny red patch.Mostly feed on insects, fruits, and seeds.

8 Types Of Woodpeckers In North Carolina: In Detail

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpeckers can be seen all year in North Carolina. They are bigger than Downy Woodpeckers and fairly similar to Hairy Woodpeckers in size. They are also known to feed frequently at bird feeders, particularly suet feeders.

Red-bellied woodpeckers have red bellies with barely detectable red tints, while males have redheads. Because their bellies are rarely crimson, untrained bird viewers may mistake them for red-headed.

The rest of their body is a fascinating crosshatch of black and white stripes. Their name is derived from a slightly colored patch on their belly that appears to have been blushed.

At first sight, their red heads are visible but resist the urge to mistake them for Red-headed Woodpeckers.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers do have a red stomach, but it is light red and due to this it sometimes gets unnoticed. To recognize them, look for their black and white barred wings and a red mohawk down their neck.

Red-Headed Woodpecker

Red-headed woodpeckers have their breeding grounds in western North Carolina, although they can be seen all year throughout the remainder of the state.

These woodpeckers are easy to recognize because of their brilliant redheads and prominent black and white patterns. Red-headed Woodpeckers have a robust spike beak and are medium in size.

They have short tails, white undersides, black backs, and huge white bands on their wings. They are capable of strong territorial defense, including removing or killing the eggs of other birds or ducks.

Red-headed Woodpeckers, like other woodpeckers, collect insects in flight as well as in crevices.

Only approximately a third of their food consists of insects such as beetles, midges, honeybees, and grasshoppers. Plant components such as seeds, nuts, and berries make up the remaining two-thirds.

Pileated Woodpecker


The Pileated Woodpecker is North Carolina’s largest woodpecker and may be found throughout the year.

The Pileated Woodpecker stands out with its flaming-red triangular crest. It is roughly the size of a crow and is one of the largest woodpeckers.

It’s predominantly black with a white stripe, and the white underside of the wings may be seen when it’s flying. On the cheeks of males, there is an extra red stripe.

Pileated Woodpeckers consume carpenter ants from dead trees and fallen logs, but they also eat termites, beetle larvae, and other insects, as well as fruit and nuts including blackberries, and sumac berries, dogwood, and elderberry. They emit a harsh whinnying cry and a heavy thumping sound.

Pileated Woodpeckers use bird feeders in backyards, particularly for suet. They also eat black oil sunflower seeds, hulled sunflower seeds, suet, peanuts, and mealworms. Also, if you want to attract a breeding couple, consider setting up a nest box.

Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

The Hairy Woodpecker may be seen all year in North Carolina, primarily in wooded areas. These medium-sized woodpeckers have a black and white pattern on their backs as well as a huge white patch.

A flash of red may be seen on the backs of the males’ heads. It has a similar appearance to the Downy woodpecker, although it is bigger.

It’s difficult to tell them apart because they’re commonly located in the same places. They are strong tiny bird that produces a whinnying sound or explosive peak sounds and can be observed on backyard feeders.

Hairy Woodpeckers eat a variety of insects, including beetle larvae, ants, and bark beetles, but they will also consume bees, caterpillars, spiders, moth pupae, and millipedes.

Squirrel-proof suet feeders with a cage to prevent bigger birds from getting all the turns to benefit Hairy Woodpeckers. 

Furthermore, black oil sunflower seeds will attract more Hairy Woodpeckers to your yard, and you can also use suet and hopper feeder.

Downy Woodpecker

downy woodpecker

In North Carolina, the Downy Woodpecker may be seen all year. The Downy Woodpecker is the tiniest woodpecker in North Carolina.

Despite having a similar appearance to the Hairy Woodpecker, it is a third smaller and has a smaller beak than other Woodpeckers.

You’re more likely to spot a Downy Woodpecker at a feeder since they’re more common. The black and white patterning on the Downy Woodpecker’s back is primarily black with a white patch. A crimson patch on the rear of the males’ heads is also present.

Small birds such as nuthatches and chickadees are frequently observed alongside Downy Woodpeckers. They are usually spotted at feeders and may be found in open forests, parks, orchards, and backyards. They’re also seen among tall weeds.

On backyard bird feeders, Downy Woodpeckers can be found. They emit a high-pitched sound and a falling whiny cry, and they’re quite active.

Downy woodpeckers consume a variety of insects, particularly larvae, as well as nuts, berries, acorns, and cereals.

Northern Flicker

In North Carolina, the Northern Flicker may be seen all year. Northern Flickers that have traveled south after mating are more abundant in the winter in North Carolina when their numbers grow.

Northern Flickers in North Carolina are known as yellow-shafted flickers because they have a flash of yellow in their wings and tails, a white patch on their rump in flight, and a red nape of the neck in males. They’re huge brown woodpeckers with bright black spots on their backs.

Northern Flickers have a piercing shriek and a loud ringing cry. They consume mostly ants and beetles, but also fruits and seeds, and may be observed digging them up with their bent bill on the ground.

Northern Flickers don’t use bird feeders as frequently as they do birdbaths, so investing in a beautiful pedestal birdbath or a heated birdbath during the winter is the best option.

You can try to encourage them by using suet cages, huge hoppers, or platform feeders to feed black oil sunflower seeds, hulled sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, suet, and cracked corn, peanuts, and millet.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

yellow bellied sapsucker

The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is a migratory bird that breeds in northern states and Canada and spends the winter in North Carolina.

It is around the size of a robin and is pretty little. They’re predominantly black with red foreheads and a crimson neck on the male.

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers bore holes in trees and extract the sap using their brush-tipped tongues. Look for them in young paper birch, yellow birch, red or sugar maple, and hickory trees, as they form clean horizontal rows of holes.

To keep the sap flowing, the holes must be kept clean. Young deciduous forests are frequently seen on birch or maple trees, where they create orderly rows of sap wells to feed.

Red-cockaded Woodpecker

red-cockaded woodpecker

Red-cockaded Woodpeckers are endangered woodpeckers that may be seen throughout the year in eastern North Carolina and do not migrate.

Because they are just robin-sized, they are difficult to see, and their black back helps them blend in. Their backs are striped in black and white, with the whiter underside and big white cheek patches. On the male cheek, there is a practically undetectable red line.

In the pine forests, foraging in groups, Insects and larvae, such as ants, beetles, and centipedes, are eaten by woodpeckers.

Pine seeds, wild cherries, grapes, blueberries, and grapes are among the seeds and fruits they will consume. If you live near pine forests, food such as berries may attract woodpeckers to your yard.

Grow berry-producing plants local to your areas, such as grape, bayberries, hackberries, or elderberries.

Red-cockaded Woodpeckers are rare and endangered, but if you want to view one in North Carolina, go to the Croatan National Forest’s Patsy Pond Nature Trail, Holly Shelter Game Land, and Carvers Creek State Park, or Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve. 


Q1. What is the largest and smallest woodpecker in North Carolina?

The biggest Woodpecker: Pileated Woodpecker 

The smallest woodpecker: Downy Woodpecker

Q2. Are Pileated Woodpeckers in North Carolina?

The Pileated Woodpecker is North Carolina’s largest woodpecker and may be found throughout the year in North Carolina.

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