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7 Woodpeckers in Pennsylvania: Characteristics & Habitats

Orange and White Woodpecker

Woodpeckers are gorgeous and unique creatures that many bird enthusiasts seek out. Just like their name implies, you can recognize woodpeckers by their tendency to peck into trees for bugs and insects.


While you can find woodpeckers scattered throughout the North American continent, this article will tell you all you need to know about the woodpeckers of Pennsylvania. 

All About The Beautiful Pennsylvania Woodpeckers

The state of Pennsylvania typically lists down a total of seven species of woodpeckers. 

However, this figure is known to jump from seven to nine species, mainly during the winter seasons.

The population changes are mainly because the Black-backed woodpecker and Three-toed woodpecker species travel south for migration.

With Pennsylvania being a naturally attractive place, which many woodpeckers call home, you can find several of its species in this state. You will learn all about these species of PA woodpeckers in our next section.

These types of woodpeckers in Pennsylvania are noted for their common habit to perch around yards. Some species even frequently stay on the grass.

The state offers vast geographic space and ideal weather, allowing woodpeckers to thrive. With this in mind, you can see these beautiful birds just about anywhere in the state.

When the spring season comes, you can also expect the woodpeckers of Pennsylvania to be bustling with all sorts of activity.

As a woodpecker would do, these birds will peck into the sides of trees, houses, and even poles to mark their territories.

You will most likely hear varying sounds from several Pennsylvania woodpecker species across the neighborhood during this brief period.

Let’s get started identifying each one’s characteristics!

1. Northern Flicker

Gray and white woodpecker


  • Wingspan: 16 - 21 inches
  • Weight: 4 - 6 ounces
  • Length: 11 - 12 inches


The northern flicker is a beautifully unique woodpecker with unmatched distinct features. These birds will typically have vibrant brown and greyish colors along with a white rump patch. The northern flicker also boasts black bars, dots, and crescents on their chest and belly areas.

They have beautiful, metallic wings that allow you to spot them easily. It is important to note that species from the west will highlight red feathers on their tails. Woodpeckers in Pennsylvania, however, feature yellow feathers on their tail undersides instead of red. 


Despite being a bird, the northern flicker loves to spend its time on land. When they decide to stay on trees, you will notice these birds perching on thin branches, carrying themselves in an upright posture.

You will often encounter northern flickers communicating with their fellow woodpeckers by repeatedly pecking its peak on all sorts of surfaces. The kind nature of these birds makes them ideal mates for both female and male woodpeckers.

Their gentle demeanor also makes them perfect for nurturing offspring.


Like most woodpeckers in Pennsylvania, you can find them in places with many trees, especially around yards and parks. As peaceful as they are, you can easily take pictures of northern flickers without alarming them.

2. Hairy Woodpecker

white and black woodpecker on a tree


  • Wingspan: 13 - 16 inches
  • Weight: 1 - 4 ounces
  • Length: 7 - 10 inches


The hairy woodpecker features contrasting shades of white and black on its body; their round bodies also make them stand out. Their delicate heads come with two white stripes to match their checkered black and white wings. Finally, a long streak of white typically runs on their backs.

One of the most exciting characteristics of this species is the different appearance of males and females. A male hairy woodpecker will highlight a small patch of bright red in the rear of their heads that females do not have. 


Most people adore hairy woodpeckers for their ability to sing beautiful songs when seeking a mate. It allows bird watchers in Pennsylvania to identify them quickly.

These birds simply love climbing tree trunks and even huge branches.

You can often catch the hairy woodpecker feeding at the foot of trees and above the ground.

Among all the other woodpeckers in PA, hairy woodpeckers commonly stay in the state throughout the seasons. While they do love traveling, these birds nest in the safety of Pennsylvania.


Bird enthusiasts will typically find hairy woodpeckers residing deep in forests. In contrast, these birds also love forest edges, parks, as well as cemeteries. You can even see the Hairy Woodpeckers flying about in vast woodlands.

3. Red-Bellied Woodpecker

white and gray woodpecker


  • Wingspan: 13 - 17 inches
  • Weight: 2 - 3 ounces
  • Length: 9 inches


Right off the bat, the first thing that you can notice from the red-bellied woodpecker has a distinct red-colored head. This red color comes in light streaks on its underbelly as well.

The red-bellied woodpecker also features a pattern of white and black on its back which traces to its white wingtips. This bird's iconic color scheme stands out compared to other pictures of woodpeckers in Pennsylvania.


Red-bellied woodpeckers are frequently spotted to be latching onto tree branches and trunks of all sorts of different trees. For a woodpecker, this bird picks off barky surfaces instead of digging into them.

A notable characteristic of these birds is their loyalty to their mates.

Just like a newly-wed couple would, the red-bellied woodpecker spends time with its partner to create their nest on trees.


While these birds are common in Pennsylvania, the red-bellied woodpecker can also be widespread across several Eastern forests.

These types of birds will typically settle in oak, hickory, or even pine trees. Otherwise, the red-bellied woodpecker also appears near backyards.

4. Pileated Woodpecker

black woodpecker with red head


  • Wingspan: 26 - 30 inches
  • Weight: 9 - 13 ounces
  • Length: 16 - 20 inches


Among the woodpeckers of Pennsylvania, you can probably spot the pileated woodpecker from a mile away. Not only are these birds bigger than most woodpeckers, but they also have very vibrant and pleasant colors.

The pileated woodpecker has a body with plenty of black and white streaks. The most noticeable feature of this bird is undoubtedly the bright red patch of color atop its head.

Upon closer inspection, you may notice that male pileated woodpeckers will have a long red stripe on their cheek while females do not.


Insects are probably the pileated woodpecker’s favorite meal. For this reason, you will often see these birds carve holes into old and rotting wood to eat.

The pileated woodpecker has a rather unpleasant call that can be whiny at times. To top it all off, they make a very rhythm-like sound whenever they decide to peck into trees.


As they are rather large birds, the pileated woodpecker needs a giant nest deep in forests. These birds often choose upright, dead trees where they can settle.

Interestingly enough, the pileated woodpecker will create many entrances near their homes which many bird enthusiasts can quickly identify.

5. Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker

yellow and black woodpecker


  • Wingspan: 13 - 16 inches
  • Weight: 2 - 3 ounces
  • Length: 7 - 9 inches


As its name may suggest, yellow-bellied sapsuckers do have yellow bellies. Like many different woodpeckers of Pennsylvania, you will recognize this bird by its beautiful black and white pattern. Regardless of sex, the yellow-bellied sapsucker all have red patches on their throats and heads.

The yellow-bellied sapsucker’s wings also tend to have a distinct white streak that traces along with its wings. Bold black stripes commonly protect and shadow over their yellow bellies.


They are called sapsuckers for a reason. The yellow-bellied sapsucker loves to drink saps from various trees, making the bird an excellent match for its name.

You will generally find these birds perched on trees while leaning on their tails for balance.

When drilling for sap wells, The yellow-bellied sapsucker makes very clean circular holes into trees. These beautiful birds simply love the sugar and insects that sap may give them. 


Yellow-bellied sapsuckers have a very particular process whenever they nest. Commonly lasting weeks,  males of the yellow-bellied sapsucker species will drill a medium-sized cavity to make a suitable nesting area. They dwell in all sorts of small trees across Pennsylvania, such as aspens.

6. Red-Headed Woodpecker

red head, black and white woodpecker


  • Wingspan: 17 inches
  • Weight: 2 - 3 ounces
  • Length: 7 - 9 inches


When it comes to appearance, The red-headed woodpecker is very plain but also very elegant; they have unique bright heads that make them stick out like a sore thumb.

These adorable birds are effortlessly distinguishable by their white bodies and patches on their black wings. The red-headed woodpecker’s white patches alternate with black nearing their tails.


Red-headed woodpeckers love spending time finding wooden cavities to nest in. While they prefer to live in non-living structures, they still travel to find fresh insects in trees and even mid-flight.

Their meals also contain tiny seeds and even fruit. The red-headed woodpecker is most notable for its screechy calls in the wild.


Bird enthusiasts will be able to see plenty of red-headed woodpeckers deep into Pennsylvania’s woodlands.

From savannahs and vast forests, these birds love all sorts of plants in their environments. After all, it is much easier to snatch bugs and fruit where greenery is thriving.

7. Downy Woodpecker

white and gray woodpecker in a forest


  • Wingspan: 10 - 12 inches
  • Weight: 1 ounce
  • Length: 5 - 7 inches


Last but not least, the downy woodpecker is arguably one of the smallest woodpeckers out there. With their checker-like wing pattern and white underbellies, this species highlights a balance of white and black body patterns.

This woodpecker has a noticeable white stripe along the center of its backside. Males of the downy woodpecker species also have a small patch of red atop their heads that their female counterparts do not have.

Other than that, these birds also have small white and black spots on some of their exterior feathers.


Due to their unfortunately short lifespan, the downy woodpecker enjoys the little time it has—these species like spending time on tree limbs, branches, and trunks all over Pennsylvania.

These birds make quite a lot of loud noises and frequent drumming on surfaces for their small size.

Downy Woodpeckers also enjoy hopping on the ground and searching for small insects and other tasty snacks. 


Another unique tendency of the downy woodpecker is their enjoyment of making nesting boxes. You can find these nests in open woodlands and deadwood trees among tightly packed trees.

Additionally, the downy woodpecker loves staying around orchards and spaces across Pennsylvania.

FAQs About Woodpeckers In PA

Do woodpeckers live in Pennsylvania?

While there is not much variety, there are currently seven species that you can find in Pennsylvania. The state has a generous amount of land and greenery for woodpeckers to nest in. The kinds of birds found in Pennsylvania also love settling near the state’s forest edges and yards.

What kind of woodpeckers are in Pennsylvania?

As mentioned above, there are a total of seven species that live in the state. Excluding the seasonal Black-backed woodpecker and Three-toed woodpecker species, you can find the following woodpeckers in Pennsylvania:

  • Northern Flicker
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Red-Bellied Woodpecker
  • Pileated Woodpecker
  • Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker
  • Red-Headed Woodpecker
  • Downy Woodpecker

Here's a video of a male hairy woodpecker:

What is the largest woodpecker in Pennsylvania?

Measuring up to 20 inches, the Pileated is the largest woodpecker in Pennsylvania and North America. Bird magazines and popular shows even featured the Pileated woodpecker many times due to its pretty black color.

Final Thoughts

Pennsylvania woodpeckers are all very distinct birds. While they may seem small in terms of variety, there are many of these beautiful creatures that you can find all over the state.

Woodpeckers so easily made Pennsylvania their home because of its various habitats and the abundance of their food sources.

Hence, whether it may be in someone’s yard or deep into a forest, nothing beats these lovely birds of nature. Who knows, it may grace your backyard one day, and now you can identify them with no trouble at all.

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