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7 Species of Woodpeckers in New Jersey (With Pictures)

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hairy woodpecker hiding behind the tree

If you are a beginner bird watcher, woodpeckers are ideal because they’re relatively easy to find, and there are many different kinds, so you can have quite an adventure looking for them all. It can also be helpful to know what you’re looking at if you see one near your property, as some can cause damage. If you live in New Jersey and would like to know what kinds of woodpeckers are in your area, keep reading as we list several. 

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The 7 Species of Woodpeckers in New Jersey

1. Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker
Image Credit: JackBulmer,Pixabay
Length: 5.5–7.5 inches
Distinguishing Characteristics: Red spot on head, white spots on wings

The Downey Woodpecker is a small bird that prefers open woodlands and city parks. It’s also a common bird to see at a backyard bird feeder, and it’s easy to identify by a small red spot on the back of its head. This bird also has a black-and-white striped face, with a black stripe extending from behind the eyes.

2. Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker perched on a tree
Image Credit: thebeebesknees, Pixabay
Length: 7–10.5 inches
Distinguishing Characteristics: Red spot on head, white spots on wings

The Hairy Woodpecker looks like the Downy Woodpecker, but it’s larger. The red spot on its head is also not as dark, and it has more of a square head. These birds like mature forests, and you can also find them in parks and cemeteries as long as there are plenty of oak and pine trees for them to search for food.

3. Northern Flicker

northern flicker perching on wooden fence
Image Credit: Naturelady, Pixabay
Length: 11–14 inches
Distinguishing Characteristics: Spots on the belly, black bib, red spot on the head

The Northern Flicker is easy to identify because it has a light-colored belly covered with dark spots. The head is gray and has a red patch behind or under the eye, depending on the variety of bird, and it has a black bib and long beak. These birds prefer to spend time on the ground looking for seeds rather than spending time in trees. They like open habitats, so you will often find them in large yards or parks anywhere in New Jersey.

4. Pileated Woodpecker

pileated woodpecker bird perching on a tree trunk
Image Credit: JackBulmer, Pixabay
Length: 16–19 inches
Distinguishing Characteristics: Red crown, black-and-white striped face, yellow ring around the eye

The Pileated Woodpecker is an easy-to-identify variety because it has a red crown that almost resembles a mohawk. This woodpecker also has a red spot extending under the eye from the beak. The body is mostly black, and it prefers to stay around dead or dying trees. The Pileated Woodpecker likes to live in pairs but will accommodate stragglers during the winter months.

5. Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker
Image Credit: iTopLoveliness, Pixabay
Length: 7–9 inches
Distinguishing Characteristics: Red crown and neck, white belly, black wings with white spots

The Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker has a red crown and neck. It also has yellow highlights around the belly area, which is how it gets its name. It’s a small bird with a straight bill that prefers to perch on upright trees. It likes to create neat rows of shallow holes, and as the name suggests, it enjoys the sweet taste of tree sap.

6. Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Image Credit: JackBulmer, Pixabay
Length: 9–10 inches
Distinguishing Characteristics: Red crown and nape, white belly

The Red-Bellied Woodpecker is a hard-to-find bird and not because it’s rare but because it has a strange name. While this bird has a red crown and nape, its face and belly are usually white, with only a few having red highlights in the belly area. These woodpeckers prefer old oak and hickory trees to young pine ones, but you can often find them in the backyard feeders.

7. Red-Headed Woodpecker

Red Headed Woodpecker Perched On a Branch
Image Credit: John L. Absher, Shutterstock
Length: 7.5–9.5 inches
Distinguishing Characteristics: Red head, white belly, black wings with white tips

The Red-Headed Woodpecker is easy to find because of its bright-red head. Its back is black with white wing patches, and its belly is white. These birds eat insects that they find in old wood but will also catch the bugs mid-flight and like to eat plenty of seeds and fruits. Look for these birds in pine plantations near water.hummingbird divider

What Do Woodpeckers Eat?

Woodpeckers usually eat the insects that they dig out of wood, like ants, termites, and beetles. However, many will supplement their diet with seeds and even fruits and berries when other food sources are scarce.

How Do I Get Woodpeckers in My Yard?

If you live at the edge of a large forest or have old dead or dying trees on your property, there’s a good chance that you will see a few woodpeckers. Since many woodpeckers enjoy eating seeds, attracting them to backyard feeders is easy, especially in winter, when bugs might be scarce. Downy woodpeckers in particular like black sunflower seeds, which are in many commercial bird foods. The Pileated Woodpecker, Red-Bellied Woodpecker, and Red-Headed Woodpecker also enjoy the seeds found in many backyard bird feeders.


There are several woodpeckers in New Jersey. Most of these birds should be easy to find because they’re brightly colored, and more than half will come to your backyard bird feeders if you have the right kind of seeds, especially black sunflower seeds. Learning the different varieties of woodpeckers can also help you if you’re having a problem with one damaging your property.


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Featured Image Credit: simardfrancois, Pixabay

About the Author Ed Malaker

Ed Malaker is a veteran writer who contributes to a wide range of blogs covering information on computer programming, pets, birding, tools, fitness, guitars, and optics. Outside of writing, Ed is often found working in the garden or performing DIY projects in the house. Ed is also a musician, spending his time composing music for independent films or helping people repair their guitars.