10 Types of Woodpeckers in Louisiana (With Pictures)

Many birds thrive in the southern states of the US, with woodpeckers in Louisiana being among the most successful species.

Louisiana is home to hundreds of species of thrushes, passerines, and birds of prey. This state also has expansive countryside and diverse wildlife refuge centers, making it one of the best ideal locations to spot woodpeckers and other small birds like sparrows, canaries, lories, finches, and doves.

Here, we’re discussing fun facts and types of woodpeckers in Louisiana.

The Most Common Types of Woodpeckers in Louisiana

You can find dozens of species of woodpeckers across the US, with 9 of those blossoming in the Pelican State as permanent residents.

Let’s see some of these backyard yards, where you can find them, and how you can attract them to your garden.

1. Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus)

Most common woodpecker in Louisiana

Common everywhere in Louisiana, the Red-headed Woodpecker has a distinctive crimson/red head, with black wings and patches of gray on the back. The tail is white with black bars. It’s about 8 inches, weighs 2 ounces, and has a wingspan of 14 inches.

Red-headed woodpeckers are aggressive birds with a habit of fighting other thrushes either for food or territory. They’re loud and love spending time in tall, old trees. You can attract them to your backyard by stashing your feeders with suet and other seeds.

2. Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)

Largest woodpecker in Louisiana

Larger than other woodpeckers in Louisiana, the piliated woodpecker has a bright red crest on its head, a white neck, and a black body with white wing patches. It has a wingspan of 28 inches, weighs 10 ounces, and is about 17 inches.

Male pileated woodpeckers have a red mustache stripe, while the female has a black stripe. These woodpeckers can be found in mature forests, where it feeds on insects, nuts, and fruit.

They don’t frequent backyards like the downys or hairys but when they visit, they’ll not miss your suet feeder.

3. Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens)

Unlike the pileated woodpecker, the downy woodpecker is a small bird with a white belly, a black upperpart, and black feathers with streaks of white patches. They are one of the most common woodpeckers in Louisiana and like frequenting backyards with suet feeders, sunflower seeds, and peanuts.

The downy woodpecker is about 7 inches, weighs 0.7 ounces, and has a wingspan of 10 inches. You can easily spot this small bird because it has a white stripe running down the center of its head.

The male has a red patch on the back of its head, while the female has a black patch. You can find them across the Pelican state in open fields and forests.

4. Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)

It’s not uncommon for even avid birders to confuse the red-bellied woodpecker with the red-headed woodpecker. Both woodpeckers have red feathers on their head, but the red-bellied species have lighter red crests and patches of red on the top and back of their heads.

The red-bellied Woodpecker feeds on insects, nuts, and fruit, and is a common backyard bird in Louisiana. They live in this state and other Southeastern states all year round. You’re more likely to find them in forests replete with old trees than in open grasslands.

5. Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus various)

Unlike most of these other woodpeckers who permanently live in Louisiana, the yellow-bellied woodpecker is a migratory species that spends summers in the northern states and winters in the southern states. It has a black and white barred back, a white breast, and a yellow belly.

As their name suggests, they mostly peck on trees and tap on their sap. They drill neat rows of small holes from which they extract sap from trees—maples and birches are their favorites. They also feed on insects and fruits and are occasional backyard revelers.

6. Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)

Unique woodpecker in Louisiana

Another peculiar woodpecker is the Northern Flicker. Scattered across North America and Louisiana, this woodpecker hammer on the soil and hunt for food on the ground instead of scavenging insects, nuts, and fruits on trees.

The northern flicker is larger than the hairy woodpecker, but smaller than the pileated woodpecker. It has a brown back, a white breast, and a black bib. The wings and tail are barred with black and white, and the underwings are yellow.  

While northern flickers stay in Louisiana all year round, those in the northern parts of the Pelican state migrate south as winter approaches.

7. Ivory-billed Woodpeckers (Endangered Woodpeckers in Louisiana)

Woodpecker with endangered status – Credits James St. John

The ivory-billed woodpecker (Campephilus principalis) is an endangered species of woodpecker. It’s the third largest species of woodpecker in the world and you can identify it by its black body, white wing patches, and a red crest on its head.

This woodpecker was common in the 1800s in Cuba and the southern states of the US before it disappeared in the 20th century because of habitat change and overhunting. Then it was rediscovered in the “Big Woods” area of eastern Arkansas in 2004. Other sightings were made in Louisiana, but none is sure if it was an ivory-billed or pileated woodpecker.

8. Red-cockaded Woodpecker (Rarest Woodpeckers in Louisiana)

Red-cockaded Woodpecker
Rarest woodpecker in Louisiana – Credits Andy Reago & Chrissy McLarren

The red-cockaded woodpecker (Leuconotopicus borealis) loves old pine forests, but it’s a rare find in Louisiana. They’re confined to some areas in northwestern and eastern Louisiana and stay in these regions throughout the year.

Their populations were decimated to about only 15,000 birds because of logging. You can’t find them in your backyard and the best place to see them is a wild refuge. Always bring your scope while birdwatching in Louisiana, as you may only see these woodpeckers once in a while.

The hairy woodpecker is another rare woodpecker in the Pelican State. It resembles downys but they are larger. They prefer visiting forests charred by fire as they can get abundant food.

How To Attract Woodpeckers to Your Backyard

To attract woodpeckers to your backyard feeders, mind the following tips:

  • Provide woodpeckers with their favorite food: Woodpeckers love suet and sunflower seeds, so you can easily keep them coming to your feeder if you provide them with these foods.  
  • Offer shelter: Woodpeckers love birdhouses that resemble their nests.
  • Maintain dead trees: Keep dead or old trees within your yard, and you’ll probably see woodpeckers flocking to peck on them.
  • Provide water: You can easily welcome woodpeckers to your yard if you accompany food with water. They’ll drink and bathe, so place the water in a stable large bowl.

You can also attract woodpeckers by installing nest boxes in your yard, though they’ll compete for the boxes with many other birds like finches, bluebirds, and swallows.

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