Woodpeckers In North America
About 21 species of woodpeckers regularly breed in North America. The largest species is the 18 in (46 cm) American ivory-billed woodpecker (Campephilus principalis) of the southeastern United States, although this species is rare and may even be extinct.
The pileated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) is another large species, with a body length of 15 in (38 cm). This species is still widespread, although uncommon throughout its range.
The northern flicker (Colaptes auratus) occurs very widely across North America. The yellow-shafted flicker is a subspecies (C. a. borealis) with bright yellow underwing feathers and is predominant in the eastern and northern range, while the red-shafted flicker (C. a. cafer) is southwestern in distribution. Flickers often feed on the ground, eating ants and other insects.
The yellow-bellied sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius) drills a horizontal series of holes in trees, which then ooze sugary sap that attracts and ensnares insects. They are later eaten by the sapsucker, as is some of the sap. The acorn woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus) occurs in oak forests of the southwestern United States. This species collects and caches acorns for future consumption, storing them in small holes that it excavates in tree bark. The acorn woodpecker lives in social groups of four to 10 closely related individuals. These cooperating birds engage in communal defense of a breeding territory, and they collect and store their acorns together.
The hairy and downy woodpeckers (Picoides villosus and P. pubescens) are the most widespread species in North America, occurring in almost every forest. The downy woodpecker is more abundant and familiar, often occurring in suburban environments. Both species will feed on suet and peanut butter at feeders.
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