Fascinating Woodpeckers in Louisiana: A Guide to the Species and Their Habitat

Are you a bird enthusiast looking to add more species to your spotting list?

Louisiana is home to a beautiful array of nine different woodpecker species.

This blog is your comprehensive guide on these fascinating birds, providing detailed information about their distinct characteristics and habitat in the Pelican State.

Dive in, there’s much for you to discover about these extraordinary creatures!

Key Takeaways

  • Louisiana is home to nine different woodpecker species, each with unique characteristics and habitats.
  • Woodpeckers have distinct behaviors and adaptations, such as pecking on wood to find food and create nesting cavities.
  • The Red – cockaded Woodpecker is the only federally endangered woodpecker in Louisiana and has a special nesting habit of excavating live pine trees.
  • To attract woodpeckers to your backyard, provide food, install a hummingbird feeder, mimic their calls, create suitable habitats with trees and water sources, leave dead trees standing, and avoid pesticide use.


Understanding Woodpeckers: An Overview

Woodpeckers are fascinating birds known for their unique behaviors and adaptations.

What are Woodpeckers?

Woodpeckers are special birds. They have black, white, and red feathers. They use their sharp beaks to peck on wood. This is how they find food like bugs and make homes in trees. These homes are called nesting cavities.

Woodpeckers do not build nests inside the cavity like other birds. They lay their eggs on a bed made of wood chips inside the hole they made in the tree.

What do Woodpeckers eat?

Woodpeckers eat a lot of things. Their food includes insects, spiders, nuts, and seeds. They also like fruit. Some may even eat bird babies called nestlings from other birds’ nests.

Hairy Woodpeckers have a special diet. They love to crunch on beetles that live in tree bark and ants too! Moth pupae, bees and caterpillars are some other bugs they enjoy as snacks.

Besides bugs, they also munch on millipedes for treats!

The nest cavity of Woodpeckers

Woodpeckers make a home in dead wood. They dig out a space for their nest. This is known as a “nest cavity.” The wood chips from the digging form a bed at the bottom. Here, they lay their eggs.

The red-cockaded woodpecker acts different than most. It digs into live pine trees to make its nest. This can take up to one full year! Once done, it uses this same spot again and again for sleep or breeding.

Other birds or animals sometimes use old woodpecker cavities for shelter too.

Size and shape of a Woodpecker entrance hole

Woodpecker entrance holes come in different sizes and shapes. The size and shape of the hole depend on the species of woodpecker. For example, pileated woodpeckers make large oval-shaped holes, while other species create smaller round holes.

The red-cockaded woodpecker is unique because it excavates its nests in live pine trees, which takes a long time to complete. This species also reuses its cavities for breeding or roosting sites.

So, depending on the type of woodpecker you see, you can determine their presence by looking at the size and shape of their entrance hole.

The Fascinating World of Louisiana Woodpeckers

Discover the diverse and captivating woodpecker species that call Louisiana home.


Most Common and Rarest Woodpeckers in Louisiana

In Louisiana, woodpeckers are known for their colorful feathers and distinctive pecking sounds. The most common and rarest species reside in this state, each with unique characteristics and habitats.






















Woodpecker Species Common/Rare
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Common
Red-headed Woodpecker Rare
Red-bellied Woodpecker Common
Downy Woodpecker Common
Hairy Woodpecker Common
Red-cockaded Woodpecker Rare
Pileated Woodpecker Common
Northern Flicker Common
Ivory-billed Woodpecker Rare


Each species, whether common or rare, contributes to the vibrant ecosystem of Louisiana. Their striking combination of black, white, and red feathers adds a splash of color to the landscape. Notably, the Red-headed Woodpecker is unique for its bright crimson head, seen on both males and females. However, the Red-cockaded Woodpecker is especially unique for its ability to excavate in live pine trees, a process which may take up to a year to complete.

The Largest and Smallest Louisiana Woodpeckers

In Louisiana, the distinction of the largest and smallest woodpeckers goes to the Pileated Woodpecker and Downy Woodpecker, respectively. Here’s a quick comparison of these two species.


  Pileated Woodpecker Downy Woodpecker
Size 40-49cm 14-17cm
Weight 250-350g 21-28g
Status Largest woodpecker in Louisiana Smallest woodpecker in Louisiana


Each woodpecker has its unique features and habitats, making them an integral part of Louisiana’s rich biodiversity.

A Detailed Look at Woodpecker Species in Louisiana

Get to know the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Red-headed Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, and more fascinating woodpeckers that call Louisiana home.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is a species of woodpecker that can be found in Louisiana. It is known for its yellow belly, which sets it apart from other woodpeckers in the area. This bird measures about 18-22cm and weighs around 43-55g, with a wingspan of 34-40cm.

The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is migratory, spending winters in the southern United States and Mexico. It is likely to visit bird feeders, making it a delightful sight for birdwatchers in Louisiana.

Red-headed Woodpecker

One of the woodpecker species found in Louisiana is the Red-headed Woodpecker. These woodpeckers are about 19-23cm longweigh between 56-91g, and have a wingspan of around 42cm. What makes them stand out is their bright red head and bold black and white markings on their bodies.

Red-headed Woodpeckers are known to fiercely defend their territories and may even remove or destroy the eggs of other birds. These fascinating birds play a crucial role in maintaining ecosystem balance, making them an important part of the woodpecker species in Louisiana.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

The Red-bellied Woodpecker is one of the most common woodpeckers you can find in Louisiana. It has black and white feathers, and males have a red cap and nape on their heads. This bird can be seen in woodlands and forests all across the eastern United States.

Despite its name, the red color on its belly is often not visible unless it’s in flight. One interesting feature of this woodpecker is its long tongue, which can extend almost two inches past its bill.

Downy Woodpecker

The Downy Woodpecker is the smallest woodpecker species in Louisiana, weighing only 0.8 ounces. It has a black and white plumage, similar to the Hairy Woodpecker, but with a shorter bill.

These woodpeckers can often be seen visiting backyard bird feeders, especially if they are located near wooded areas. They are known for being social birds and can sometimes be found in flocks alongside titmice, chickadees, and nuthatches.

Hairy Woodpecker

The Hairy Woodpecker is a fascinating species found in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. They have a distinctive black and white pattern with a large white patch on their backs.

Male Hairy Woodpeckers also have a red flash at the back of their heads. These woodpeckers can be spotted in suburban backyards, parks, orchards, cemeteries, deciduous woods, mature forests, and swamps.

They are known for making whinnying sounds or explosive peak calls. Their diet mainly consists of insects like beetle larvae, ants, and bark beetles. Keep an eye out for these striking birds on your bird feeders!

Red-cockaded Woodpecker

The red-cockaded woodpecker is a unique species found in Louisiana. It’s the only federally endangered woodpecker in the state and can only be found in pine forests. These woodpeckers have a special nesting habit – they excavate cavities in live pine trees, which can take up to a year to complete.

What makes them even more interesting is that they reuse the same cavity for breeding or roosting sites.

To attract red-cockaded woodpeckers, large pine trees with red-heart disease are essential. This disease softens the inner wood of the tree, making it easier for these woodpeckers to create their cavities.

Interestingly, they also drill sap wells near their nest entrance to deter rat snakes.

Pileated Woodpecker

The Pileated Woodpecker is the largest woodpecker species in Louisiana, weighing 10.5 ounces. It measures between 40-49cm, weighs 250-350g, and has a wingspan of 66-75cm. This impressive bird makes large oval holes as entrance holes and is an iconic species in Louisiana.

Northern Flicker

The Northern Flicker is one of the woodpecker species found in Louisiana. It is larger than other woodpeckers, measuring around 28-31cm and weighing 110-160g, with a wingspan of 42-51cm.

You can identify the Northern Flicker by its distinctive wing and tail patterns, which have red or yellow flashes depending on where they come from. This woodpecker prefers wooded areas in Louisiana as their habitat.

Ivory-billed Woodpecker

The Ivory-billed Woodpecker is not mentioned in this article about woodpeckers in Louisiana. The article focuses on other woodpecker species found in the state, providing information about their habitats, behaviors, and characteristics.

Unfortunately, there is no specific information or facts given about the Ivory-billed Woodpecker in this particular piece.

How to Attract Woodpeckers to Your Backyard

Want Woodpeckers in your backyard? Here’s how:


  • Provide food: Fill a bird feeder with suet, sunflower seeds, peanuts, or peanut butter. Woodpeckers love these treats!
  • Install a hummingbird feeder: Woodpeckers are attracted to the nectar and insects found around hummingbird feeders.
  • Mimic their calls: Play recordings of woodpecker calls to attract them to your yard.
  • Create a suitable habitat: Plant trees that provide nesting cavities and insects for woodpeckers to eat.
  • Leave dead trees or snags standing: Woodpeckers use these for nesting and foraging.
  • Avoid pesticide use: This can harm the insects that woodpeckers rely on for food.
  • Provide water sources: Birdbaths or shallow dishes of water will help keep woodpeckers hydrated.


Frequently Asked Questions

What are the biggest and smallest Woodpeckers in Louisiana? Do Woodpeckers exist in Louisiana?

What is the biggest Woodpecker in Louisiana?

The largest woodpecker species in Louisiana is the Pileated Woodpecker. It measures 17.5 inches long and weighs about 10.5 ounces. This impressive bird is known for its striking appearance, with a black body, white stripes on its face, and a vibrant red crest on its head.

The Pileated Woodpecker is an important part of the ecosystem as it helps control populations of insects like ants and beetles by feeding on them. Its large size and powerful beak allow it to excavate deep holes in trees in search of food or to create nesting cavities.

What is the smallest Woodpecker in Louisiana?

The smallest woodpecker in Louisiana is the Downy Woodpecker. This little bird measures only 6.1 inches in length and weighs a mere 0.8 ounces. Despite its small size, the Downy Woodpecker is still an impressive sight with its black and white feathers and distinctive red patch on its head.

It may be small, but it certainly adds charm to Louisiana’s woodpecker population.

Does Louisiana have Woodpeckers?

Louisiana is indeed home to woodpeckers! In fact, there are nine different species of woodpeckers that can be found in the state. These include the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Red-headed Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, and even the rare Ivory-billed Woodpecker.

Each species has its own unique characteristics and habitat preferences. So if you’re a bird enthusiast or simply curious about these fascinating creatures, Louisiana is definitely a great place to observe woodpeckers in action!


Louisiana is home to a fascinating variety of woodpeckers, with nine different species residing in the state. From the largest Pileated Woodpecker to the smallest Downy Woodpecker, these birds are known for their distinctive black, white, and red feathers.

They play an important role in our ecosystems by excavating nesting cavities and controlling insect populations. By learning about these incredible creatures and taking steps to attract them to our backyards, we can appreciate their beauty and contribute to their conservation efforts.

So grab your binoculars and get ready for some exciting birdwatching adventures in Louisiana!


1. What types of woodpeckers can be found in Louisiana?

In Louisiana, you can find various types of woodpeckers such as the Pileated Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, and Downy Woodpecker.

2. Where do woodpeckers live in Louisiana?

Woodpeckers in Louisiana can be found in a variety of habitats including forests, wooded areas near water sources, parks, and even urban neighborhoods with mature trees.

3. What do woodpeckers eat?

Woodpeckers primarily feed on insects like beetles and ants that they find by drilling holes into tree trunks. They also eat fruits, nuts, and seeds.

4. How can I attract woodpeckers to my backyard in Louisiana?

To attract woodpeckers to your backyard in Louisiana, you can provide bird feeders with suet or peanut butter mixtures specifically designed for them. Planting native trees and providing dead trees or wooden nest boxes may also help attract them to your yard.

Julian Goldie - Owner of ChiperBirds.com

Julian Goldie

I'm a bird enthusiast and creator of Chipper Birds, a blog sharing my experience caring for birds. I've traveled the world bird watching and I'm committed to helping others with bird care. Contact me at [email protected] for assistance.