Woodpeckers in North Carolina

A total of eleven types of woodpeckers call North Carolina home. The hairy and downy are small black-and-white woodpeckers living in the state. In fact, the downy is the smallest at 6.1 inches. Both birds are very common in the state, mostly in the western part. Contrasting them in size, the pileated woodpecker is the biggest at 17.5 inches.

Woodpeckers in North Carolina (NC)

Different Types of Woodpeckers Found in North Carolina

NameIdentifying FeaturesWhere They Are Found in North Carolina
Downy WoodpeckerSmall size, black and white plumage, red spot on headThroughout the state
Red-bellied WoodpeckerRed patch on the back of the headCommon in woodlands and suburbs
Northern FlickerBrown plumage with black spots, white rumpOpen areas, woodlands, and parks
Pileated WoodpeckerLarge size, striking red crest, black and white plumageForested areas across the state
Hairy WoodpeckerSimilar to Downy but larger in sizeWooded areas and suburban parks
Red-headed WoodpeckerEntirely red head and neckSparse populations in open woodlands
Yellow-bellied SapsuckerYellow belly and white stripes on wingsForested areas and orchards
Ladder-backed WoodpeckerBlack and white barred back, ladder-like patternLimited to the southeastern region
Red-cockaded WoodpeckerBlack cap and nape, white cheek patchesLongleaf pine forests in the east
American Three-toed WoodpeckerBlack and white plumage, three-toed feetFound in remote coniferous forests
Ivory-billed WoodpeckerLarge size, black and white plumage, ivory-colored billHistorically, in bottomland forests

The American three-toed, ladder-backed, and red-cockaded woodpeckers are accidental species living in the state. The red-cockaded woodpecker is an endangered bird since it is uniquely adapted to NC’s longleaf pine ecosystem, which has significantly declined in the last 200 years. The ivory-billed woodpecker was once an inhabitant of the old-growth forests of North Carolina but is now considered extinct. Its last confirmed sighting was in 1944 in Louisiana.

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