Woodpeckers in South Carolina

The suburban backyards, forests, and woodlands of South Carolina are brought to life by the rhythmic drumming sounds of its nine woodpecker species. Their plumage is an attractive combination of black, white, and red. Most commonly found in the backyard feeders are the downy and red-bellied woodpeckers. In contrast, birders can see the others on the list below, mostly in the forests and parks. Coastal South Carolina is the best place to look for these interesting birds.

Woodpeckers in South Carolina (SC)

Different Types of Woodpeckers Found in South Carolina

NameIdentifying FeaturesWhere They Are Found in South Carolina
Red-bellied WoodpeckerRed patch on the back of the head, black and white barred plumageWoodlands, forests, and suburban areas
Downy WoodpeckerSmall size, black and white plumage, red spot on the back of the headThroughout the state
Northern FlickerBrown plumage with black spots, white rumpOpen areas, woodlands, and urban parks
Pileated WoodpeckerLarge size, striking red crest, black and white plumageForested areas and wooded parks throughout the state
Hairy WoodpeckerLarger than Downy, similar plumageWooded areas, forests, and suburban neighborhoods
Red-headed WoodpeckerEntirely red head and neckSparse populations in open woodlands and along rivers
Yellow-bellied SapsuckerYellow belly and white stripes on wingsForested areas, orchards, and wooded suburban neighborhoods
Red-cockaded WoodpeckerBlack cap and nape, white cheeks, barred back and wingsPine forests, particularly in the coastal plain
Ivory-billed WoodpeckerLarge size, ivory-white billHistorically found in old-growth forests, possibly extinct

The red-headed woodpecker population is declining, and they are becoming rarer in some places in the state. In the past 35 years, around 70% of their population has disappeared from SC. Going one step further, the red-cockaded is an endangered species living here. Earlier, they were abundant in the southern part of the state, but now only around 8,700 active clusters remain in the country. The yellow-bellied sapsucker leaves South Carolina in the winter and migrates north for breeding. In contrast, the northern flicker’s population increases in the same season when they migrate from the north to the state for breeding.

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