Woodpeckers in Alabama

Alabama’s diverse habitats, including woodlands, forests, and wetlands, host a variety of woodpecker species. Eight distinctive species reside here, each with unique appearances and behaviors. The Downy Woodpecker is the smallest in the state, measuring 6.1 inches in length. It closely resembles the Hairy Woodpecker, which is slightly larger. In contrast, the Pileated Woodpecker, the largest in the state and the second-largest in the country at 17.5 inches is renowned for its loud drumming sound.  

The most commonly sighted species is the Red-bellied Woodpecker. However, the Northern Flicker, or Yellowhammer, holds the title of the state bird, earning Alabama its nickname, the ‘Yellowhammer State,’ since the Civil War. Another species worth noting for its vibrant plumage is the Red-headed Woodpecker.

Woodpeckers in Alabama (AL)

Different Types of Woodpeckers Found in Alabama

Woodpecker NameIdentifying FeatureWhere to See in Alabama
Red-bellied WoodpeckerRed on the back of the head and a red tinge on the bellyThroughout the state, in wooded areas, forests, and suburban neighborhoods
Northern FlickerPale brown with black bars on the wings and a black crescent on the chestCommonly found in open woodlands, grasslands, and urban areas
Red-headed WoodpeckerVibrant red head, white belly, and black wings with white patchesIn open woodlands, savannas, and along the edges of forests
Pileated WoodpeckerLarge size, mostly black with a striking red crest and white stripes on the faceIn mature forests with large trees and sometimes in suburban areas
Yellow-bellied SapsuckerBlack and white plumage with a yellowish belly and distinctive white wing patchesMostly in deciduous and mixed forests, especially during migration
Downy WoodpeckerSmall size, white underside, and a white patch on the back with black wings marked by white spotsPrefer deciduous woodlands; forage in tall bushes and landscape plants. Also common in semi-open urban woodlands
Hairy WoodpeckerSimilar to Downy but larger, with a longer billIn forests, woodlands, and suburban areas with mature trees.
Ivory-billed WoodpeckerExtremely rare and possibly extinct, it was once known for its large size and ivory-colored billHistorically found in bottomland hardwood forests, it is believed to be nearly extinct.
Red-cockaded WoodpeckerBlack and white plumage with a small red spot on the nape (males)In mature pine forests in certain parts of the state, particularly in the southern longleaf pine ecosystem.

The ivory-billed woodpecker has been extirpated from the state and, until recently, was considered extinct from the US. However, it was relatively common in South Alabama till the late nineteenth century. After the Civil War, many were hunted down to extinction. The last confirmed bird of this species was shot in the Conecuh River swamps in 1907.

The red-cockaded woodpecker is endangered as it thrives in long stands of longleaf pine, most of which have been lost. Dedicated conservation efforts by way of protecting their pine habitats are helping recover its numbers. Alabama has 250 breeding groups of these rare, unusual-looking species, or roughly 600-800 birds.

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