Woodpeckers in Nebraska

Nebraska, with its vast outdoors spanning trails, woods, open spaces, state parks, lakes, and rivers, is home to as many as twelve woodpecker species. Of them, eight species are common and recognized in state checklists, while the remaining are labeled rare or accidental, namely the acorn woodpecker, Williamson’s sapsucker, red-naped sapsucker, and American three-toed woodpecker.

Woodpeckers in Nebraska (NE)

Different Types of Woodpeckers Found in Nebraska

NameIdentifying FeaturesWhere They Are Found in Nebraska
Downy WoodpeckerSmall size, black wings, white undersidesWoodlands, parks, and residential areas
Hairy WoodpeckerLarger size, longer bill, white undersidesSimilar to Downy, prefers mature forests
Northern FlickerBrown with black bars, white rumpOpen woodlands, grasslands, and farmlands
Red-bellied WoodpeckerRed on the head, black and white stripesWooded areas near rivers and swamps, mostly in eastern Nebraska
Pileated WoodpeckerLarge, black with white stripes, red crestLarge, mature forests with dead trees
Lewis’s WoodpeckerDark iridescent plumage, pink bellyOpen woodlands and burned forest areas
Red-headed WoodpeckerBright red headWoodlands and open fields
Yellow-bellied SapsuckerBlack and white, yellow bellyForested areas with trees containing sap
American Three-toed WoodpeckerBlack and white, three toesConiferous and mixed forests in remote areas
Red-naped SapsuckerBlack and white, red throat patchConiferous and mixed forests
Williamson’s SapsuckerBlack and white, red throat patchSimilar to the Red-naped Sapsucker’s habitat
Acorn WoodpeckerBlack, white face, red crown, and throatOak woodlands and deciduous forests

The northern flicker, downy, hairy, and red-bellied woodpeckers are permanent, year-round state residents. The yellow-bellied sapsucker is an exception, as it is a migratory species. The best time to see it is during the spring and fall migration. On the other hand, the Lewis’s and red-headed woodpeckers are more common in the state during their breeding season (April through July). The northwestern part of Nebraska hosts the red-naped sapsucker only during the said breeding season.

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