Woodpeckers in Ohio

Eight species of woodpeckers are native to Ohio. The largest among them is the pileated woodpecker, boasting an impressive length of 17.5 inches, making it not only the largest in Ohio but also across North America. On the opposite end of the size spectrum is the downy woodpecker, measuring a modest 6.1 inches. Despite its small stature, it is the most common species found in the region. While most woodpeckers are permanent residents, the yellow-bellied sapsucker is only spotted during the spring and fall migrations. Additionally, during winter, the population of red-headed woodpeckers tends to decrease in the northeast but increases in southern Ohio, thanks to the abundance of nuts and acorns in the region.

Woodpeckers in Ohio (OH)

Different Types of Woodpeckers Found in Ohio

NameIdentifying FeaturesWhere They Are Found in Ohio
Downy WoodpeckerSmall size, black and white plumage, red spot on headThroughout the state, in wooded areas, suburbs, and parks, including the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in the northeast
Hairy WoodpeckerLarger than Downy, but similar plumageThroughout the state, in wooded areas, suburbs, and parks, including the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in the northeast
Northern FlickerBrown plumage with black spots, white rumpAcross Ohio, in woodlands, open areas, and suburban neighborhoods. Often spotted in the Maumee Bay State Park in the northwestern part
Pileated WoodpeckerLarge size, striking red crest, black and white plumageMostly in large forested areas, particularly in the south and southeast, like Hocking Hills State Park and Shawnee State Forest. Occasional in the northeast
Red-bellied WoodpeckerRed patch on back of head, black and white barred plumage. The female has a red patch above the bill and a red napeThroughout the state in woodlands, parks, and residential areas. Common in cities like Cleveland and Toledo. Also in Shawnee State Forest in the south
Yellow-bellied SapsuckerYellow belly and white stripes on wingsPrimarily in wooded areas, including forests, parks, like Mohican State Park in central Ohio, and suburban areas.
Red-headed WoodpeckerEntirely red head and neck. Males and females are not sexually dimorphic, unlike the others on the listIn various habitats like open woodlands, savannas, and orchards. Notably in Killbuck Marsh Wildlife Area in the northeast and Oak Openings Preserve Metropark in the northwest
Black-backed WoodpeckerBlack back with white spots, white undersideRare, primarily in coniferous forests in the northeast, particularly in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Wayne National Forest
Red-naped SapsuckerRed patch on nape, white face, and throatRare, sporadic sightings in the northeastern parts
Red-cockaded WoodpeckerBlack cap and nape, white cheek patchesAccidental, native to southeastern pine forests of the US. No confirmed sighting in the state.
Ivory-billed WoodpeckerPossibly extinct or extremely rare. Large size, black and white plumage, ivory-colored billHistorically inhabited forested areas of the southeastern United States

Ohio’s longleaf pine forests are home to endangered species like the red-cockaded woodpecker, facing dwindling habitats. Another rarity, the red-naped sapsucker, was last spotted near Mt. Hope, Holmes, in 2005. All the species are protected under federal and state laws governing Ohio’s woodpeckers. It is illegal to harm them without a special permit issued by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. These regulations are crucial for the preservation of these unique birds.

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