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7 Species of Woodpeckers in Indiana (With Pictures)

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golden fronted woodpecker

Woodpeckers are remarkable birds that belong to the Picidae family. What makes them unique is their ability to bore through tree bark to look for insects and build nests. There are about 180 species of woodpeckers, and they can be found in nearly all parts of the world, except for Australia and New Guinea.  

Indiana is home to several different woodpecker species. Here are some of the most common woodpeckers that take up residence in this state.

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The 7 Species of Woodpeckers in Indiana

1. Downy Woodpecker

downy woodpecker bird perching on a tree
Image Credit: JackBulmer, Pixabay
Scientific Name: Picoides pubecens
Color: Red, black, white
Length: 5-7 inches
Wingspan: 9-12 inches

The Downy Woodpecker is a common bird that you can find in densely wooded places, such as forests and orchards. You can also find them in some suburban areas, especially parks, throughout Indiana. Many people have had success attracting them to their yards by using suet feeders. 

This woodpecker is the smallest of woodpeckers inhabiting North America. You can identify it by its tiny streak of red on its crest and striped markings on its face.

2. Hairy Woodpecker

hairy woodpecker bird perching on a tree branch
Image Credit: JackBulmer, Pixabay
Scientific Name: Picoides villosus
Color: Red, black, white
Length: 7-10 inches
Wingspan: 13-17 inches

From far away, the Hairy Woodpecker can look very similar to the Downy Woodpecker. However, this species is larger and has a longer bill. They’re also an adaptable and common species of woodpeckers and can be found in forests as well as suburban neighborhoods. 

Hairy Woodpeckers mostly eat insects that live in trees, such as ants, bark beetles, and moth pupae. They can also eat some seeds and fruit, so you can have some luck inviting them into your backyard with a bird feeder.

3. Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker bird perching on a branch
Image Credit: Veronika_Andrews, Pixabay
Scientific Name: Colaptes auratus
Color: Red, black, white, gray
Length: 12-13 inches
Wingspan: 20-22 inches

The Northern Flicker shares the checker patterned feathers that many other woodpecker species have on their breasts and wings. However, they don’t look like the stereotypical woodpecker. These birds aren’t black and white with flashes of red. Rather, they have tan and gray feathers and a relatively round head.

Northern Flickers prefer to be on the ground foraging for insects and some fruits and seeds. When they’re up on trees, they’d rather perch on horizontal branches rather than rest against tree trunks.

4. Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker
Image Credit: JackBulmer, Pixabay
Scientific Name: Dryocopus pileatus
Color: Red, black, white
Length: 16-20 inches
Wingspan: 30 inches

The Pileated Woodpecker bears the image that most people envision when they think of woodpeckers. The famous Woody the Woodpecker was inspired by the males of this species, which have a large, vibrant red crest.

Pileated Woodpeckers prefer to nest in large trees. Their bills are so strong that they can snap small trees in half while searching for insects. Your best chances of seeing this bird would be in the southern half of Indiana.

5. Red-Bellied Woodpecker

red bellied woodpecker
Image Credit: Scottslm, Pixabay
Scientific Name: Melanerpes carolinus
Color: Red, black, white
Length: 9-11 inches
Wingspan: 15-18 inches

Red-Bellied Woodpeckers are smaller woodpeckers that have red feathers that start on their crest and run down their neck. They have pale bellies and black and white-striped feathers. 

These birds prefer to perch on medium and large trees. They mostly eat nuts and seeds and some fruit. While they’ve been spotted all over Indiana, you’ll have the most luck spotting them in the southern parts of the state.

6. Red-Headed Woodpecker

Red-Headed Woodpecker
Image Credit: CoastalSandpiper, Pixabay
Scientific Name: Melanerpes erythrocephalus
Color: Red, black, white
Length: 7-10 inches
Wingspan: 16-17 inches

The Red-Headed Woodpecker is known for the blocks of colors on its body. These woodpeckers have a completely red head, a black back, and white breast. Their wings have blocks of black and white with black tips. 

These woodpeckers like to rap on trees to catch insects and can also eat fruit and seeds. They have a shrill and scratchy call and are often found in forests, pine savannas, and wetlands.

7. Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker
Image Credit: GregSabin, Pixabay
Scientific Name: Sphyrapicus varius
Color: Red, black, white
Length: 7-8 inches
Wingspan: 13-16 inches

Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers have red feathers on their foreheads and the front of their necks. Some will have yellowish bellies, while others can have white bellies. They like to perch on trees and drill holes to drink the sap. They can also eat some insects.

These woodpeckers prefer living in conifer forests and open woodlands. However, if food is scarce, they’ve been known to visit bird feeders for suet. The best way to find them is to look for sap wells on trees that are neatly lined in a row.hummingbird divider

How To Attract Woodpeckers to Your Yard

Puerto Rican Woodpecker
Image Credit: Rajh.Photography, Shutterstock

Although woodpeckers can cause damage to some trees, there are some benefits to having woodpeckers in your yard. Many woodpeckers are insectivores and enjoy eating common garden pests, such as wood-eating larvae, termites, beetles, and caterpillars. 

Since woodpeckers mostly prefer roosting and inhabiting dead trees, you don’t have to worry so much about them severely hurting growing trees in your yard. So, if you’re interested in attracting them to your yard, you can try several things to encourage them to visit. 

The first thing you’ll want to do is lay out some snacks that are enticing to these birds. While woodpeckers are insectivores, they also can enjoy sap, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and acorns. One of the most effective ways to attract woodpeckers is to use a suet feeder so that woodpeckers can enjoy a variety of foods. 

Another method you can try is posting an upright bird feeder that’s specifically designed for woodpeckers. These types of feeders will have a solid base that woodpeckers can grip with both their feet and tail feathers. They feel more natural for woodpeckers and can encourage them to eat the food inside the feeder.

Lastly, if you don’t have any particular issues with insect infestations, leave the deadwood on your trees. Woodpeckers like to poke through dead trees to find insects, so they’ll enjoy excavating through deadwood for food.hummingbird divider


Woodpeckers live all throughout Indiana. If you know what to look for, where to look, and what to listen for, there’s a really good chance that you can find them. Since they’re not the largest of birds, you’ll probably hear them before you see them, and you might need a pair of binoculars to locate them. These birds play an important role in ecosystems, so we’re sure they’ll appreciate the recognition from a respectful distance.

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Featured Image Credit: Warren Price Photography, Shutterstock

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.