Downy Woodpeckers can be found year-round in many parts of the United States, except for Hawaii, and parts of Alaska, Arizona, California, New Mexico, Nevada, and Texas. They prefer open forests with deciduous trees, but you can often find them in parks and backyards. These woodpeckers seem to be the most adaptable and least affected by developments that take away forests and woods.
They are typically permanent residents, but Downy Woodpeckers that live in the northern part of the U.S. will migrate a short way for warmer temperatures.
Hairy Woodpeckers can live anywhere across the United States, at sea level or in the mountains across the country. The southern part of California is about the only place in the U.S. you won’t find them. They prefer big trees, and you will usually find them spending time in tree trunks.
Hairy Woodpeckers can also occupy the suburbs, parks, and cemeteries. If they’re in the woods, the best place to look to see them is along the forest edge, near beaver ponds, southern swamps, orchards or in pine, oak or birch woodlands.
Northern Flickers live in wooded areas all across the United States. There are two types of Northern Flickers: the Red-shafted Flicker lives in the western part of the U.S., and the Yellow-shafted Flicker lives in the eastern region. Their hybrid zone runs through the Great Plains.
They will live in any type of forest, including areas that have been burned out. You’ll find them as high as the tree line. Flooded swamps, marsh edge, city parks, and suburbs are also places Northern Flickers call home.
Pileated Woodpeckers commonly live in forests where there are plenty of fallen, dead or deteriorating trees, but they can also reside in city parks. They can be spotted all along the east coast of the United States, as far west as Texas and as far north as Minnesota. A few have been seen in the Pacific Northwest.
You may hear them long before you see them. Like most woodpeckers, the Pileated Woodpecker drums into the wood to attract mates and establish territorial boundaries. The hammering sound can carry a long distance through the woods.
Red-bellied Woodpeckers live mainly in the southeastern United States near swamps and rivers in wooded areas, although they have begun to expand their range northward. They are most abundant in the forests of Georgia and North and South Carolina.
These woodpeckers are adaptable and can often be seen in suburbs and city parks. The more northern their habitat, the more likely they are to migrate during the winter. They are highly adaptable birds, so it isn’t unusual to spot a Red-bellied Woodpecker in the edge of a forest or clearing in the woods, a grove of trees on a farm or a shade tree in a developed part of town.
Red-headed Woodpeckers were once very common throughout the eastern United States, but, for some unknown reason, have been decreasing in numbers in the past several years. Red-headed Woodpeckers are found mostly now in the Southeast and tend to migrate only short distances. They live in groves, farms, orchards and shade trees in towns. They prefer open country and clearings in the woods to dense forests.
Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers were once plentiful in the South but now are seen mostly in the North and East part of the United States. They tend to prefer young trees, especially aspen and birch, found near streams. During the winter, they aren’t as particular and can be located in semi-open wooded areas. If you have young birch or maple trees in your yard, you may hear a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker’s drilling.