Woodpeckers in Minnesota

Most of Minnesota’s woodpeckers are non-migratory. The downy, hairy, and red-bellied woodpeckers are year-round residents and common during winter. The pileated woodpecker and northern flicker also breed and overwinter in the state but are less common in the colder months. But the scarcest species during this season are the red-headed woodpecker and yellow-bellied sapsucker, as most of the population migrates south. It is the same with the northern flicker. The drumming calls of the birds in mid- to late winter signal warmer months ahead and spread cheer among the Minnesotans.

Woodpeckers in Minnesota (MN)

Different Types of Woodpeckers Found in Minnesota

NameIdentifying FeaturesWhere They Are Found in Minnesota
Downy WoodpeckerSmall size, black wings with white spotsCommon throughout the state
Hairy WoodpeckerSimilar to Downy but largerCommon in wooded areas and forests
Northern FlickerBrownish body with black markingsOpen areas, fields, and yards
Red-bellied WoodpeckerRed cap on the headWoodlands, suburbs, and parks
Pileated WoodpeckerLarge, striking red crest and black bodyForested regions and woodlands
Yellow-bellied SapsuckerYellow belly and red throatWooded areas with sap-rich trees
Red-headed WoodpeckerBright red head and black wingsWoodlands, open areas, and suburbs
American Three-toed WoodpeckerThree-toed feet and black backOccasional in northern forests
Black-backed WoodpeckerBlack back and white undersidesRare, mainly in northern forests
Lewis’s WoodpeckerPinkish-red belly and gray collarRare and occasional sightings in the state
Williamson’s SapsuckerBlack back and yellow bellyRare in coniferous and mixed forests
Acorn WoodpeckerWhite face and throat, black cap, and red patchExtremely rare and occasional sightings


Q. Are woodpeckers protected in Minnesota?

Ans. The federal North American Migratory Bird Act protects Minnesota’s woodpeckers. It is illegal to harm, trap, or kill a woodpecker by way of shooting or any other means in the state. The nesting birds should also not be harassed by law. Having said that, if you are concerned by unsightly damage to your property by the birds or are disturbed by their noise, you can take preventive measures without causing them any harm.

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