Discover 8 Exciting woodpeckers in Nevada to hear and see

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Woodpeckers in Nevada

If you are a resident of Nevada, then you have probably heard the distinctive tapping of woodpeckers as they search for food. These birds make up an important part of Nevada’s wildlife and provide spectacular views when out on your nature excursions. There are eight commonly observed woodpeckers in Nevada, each with its unique appearance, sounds, and behavior.

What Are The Most Common Woodpeckers In Nevada?

The most common woodpeckers in Nevada include the Northern Flicker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Red-naped Woodpecker, White-headed Woodpecker, Red-breasted Sapsucker and Lewis’s Woodpecker.

Of the eight woodpeckers in Nevada, the first three are more observed than the last five, and all but two species can be seen in the state all year round. The first two species are often seen in backyards and at bird feeders around Nevada.

This post will explore the eight woodpecker species of Nevada and highlight their unique characteristics, such as size, calls, plumage, and feeding behavior.

We have organized our list from most likely seen to the least likely to be seen for your convenience.

Nevada Woodpeckers

According to the latest data from ebird, there are eight observed species of Woodpeckers in Nevada. This data has been collected from over 13,800 dedicated bird watchers throughout Nevada.

Here are some quick facts:

  • The Northern Flicker is the most commonly observed Woodpecker in Nevada
  • The Lewis’s Woodpecker is the least widely observed Woodpecker in Nevada
  • The Northern Flicker is the largest observed Woodpecker in Nevada
  • The Downy Woodpecker is the smallest Woodpecker in Nevada
  • The Northern Flicker and Downy Woodpecker are common backyard birds of Nevada and are most likely to visit your bird feeders.

8 Types Of Woodpeckers In Nevada

1. Northern Flicker

The Northern Flicker is a medium-sized woodpecker found across North America and is a year-round resident of Nevada.

There are two color groups, but all have brown plumage with black bars on their wings and tails, a black crescent mark on their cheeks, and spotted underparts.

The yellow-shafted species have yellow underwings and undertail, a grey crown, red patch behind their heads, and males have a black whisker on their face. The yellow-shafted species can be found in North America’s eastern and northern parts.

The Red-shafted species have pinkish-salmon color underwings and undertail, brown crown, lacks the red patch behind their heads, and the males have a red whisker mark on their face. The red-shafted species can be found in western North America.

  • Length: 28-31cm (about 11 to 12 inches)
  • Weight: 110-160g (3.9 to 5.6 oz)
  • Wingspan: 42-51cm (about 16.5 to 20 inches)
  • Size: Larger than a Robin but smaller than Crow

The Northern flicker has a loud “wick-a-wick-a-wick” sound. Both males and females make a loud, rapid drumming sound on trees or metal objects to mark their territories, attract mates, or warn off other Northern flickers.

Unlike most woodpeckers, Northern Flickers prefer to forage on the ground and use their long bills to dig in the ground for ants and other insects. You often see them “wicking” their bills on the ground after they catch an insect.

Northern flickers also eat fruits, berries, and nuts in the fall and winter. They will also eat suet, sunflower seeds, and peanuts from bird feeders.

The Northern flicker is a cavity nester, and the male and female take turns drilling the hole and incubating the eggs.

Females will lay between 5-8 eggs per clutch and incubate their eggs for about two weeks before the chicks hatch. 

After hatching, it takes roughly another three weeks for the chicks to fledge or grow their adult feathers and be able to fly on their own.

Tip: If you want to find a Northern Flicker, look for them feeding on the ground.

2. Downy Woodpecker

The Downy Woodpecker is the smallest member of the woodpecker family in North America. They are found in wooded areas throughout North America and can be seen in Nevada all year round.

They are primarily black with white stripes running down their backs and white spotted wings. The males have a red patch on the back of their heads, while the females have a white patch.

  • Length: 14-17cm (5.5 to 7 inches)
  • Weight: 21-28g (0.5 to 1 oz)
  • Wingspan: 25-30cm (10 to 12 inches)
  • Size: Smaller than a Robin but larger than a sparrow

Their bills are short, straight, and chisel-like, which they use to drill into trees to find insects to eat.

The downy woodpecker is a very vocal bird and will often be heard before they are seen. Their calls consist of a sharp “pik” sound followed by a softer “pik”. They also have a drumming call used to mark their territory or attract a mate.

These birds are most active during the day and can be seen crawling up tree trunks, hopping from branch to branch, or hanging upside down from branches while foraging for food.

Downy woodpeckers primarily eat insects, but they will also eat fruits, berries, and nuts. They are also frequent visitors to bird feeders that offer suet, sunflower seeds or peanuts.

The downy woodpecker is a cavity nester, which means they will drill a hole in a tree to make their nest. Both the male and female will take turns drilling the hole and incubating the eggs.

Females will lay between 3-6 white eggs per clutch. They incubate their eggs for about two weeks before the chicks hatch. 

After hatching, it takes roughly another three weeks for the chicks to fledge or grow their adult feathers and be able to fly on their own.

3. Hairy Woodpecker

The Hairy Woodpecker is a mid-sized woodpecker found in the eastern United States. They are non-migratory and can be seen in Nevada all year round.

These birds have black with white stripes running down their backs and wings and white underparts. The males have red on the back of their heads, while the females have no red.

They appear similar to Downy Woodpeckers, except they are larger and have longer bills.

  • Length: 18-26cm (7 to 10 inches)
  • Weight: 40-95g (1.4 to 4 oz)
  • Wingspan: 33-41cm (13 to 16 inches)
  • Size: About the size of a Robin

The hairy woodpecker has a sharp “peek” sound similar but lower pitched to a Downy Woodpecker call. They also have a drumming call to mark or defend their territory, attract a mate, or respond to an intruder.

They are active foragers probing tree trunks and limbs, scaling off the bark, and drilling into the wood for their preferred food.

Hairy woodpeckers primarily eat insects but will also eat fruits, berries, and nuts. They will also eat suet, sunflower seeds, and peanuts from bird feeders.

The hairy woodpecker is a cavity nester, so they will drill a hole in a tree to make their nest. Both the male and female take turns drilling the hole and incubating the eggs.

Females will lay between 3-6 eggs per clutch and incubate their eggs for about two weeks before the chicks hatch. 

After hatching, it takes roughly another four weeks for the chicks to fledge or grow their adult feathers and be able to fly on their own.

4. Ladder-backed Woodpecker

The ladder-backed woodpecker is a small woodpecker found in the southwestern United States. They are non-migratory and can be seen in the southern tip of Nevada all year round.

They have black and white plumage with black bars on their backs, wings, and tails, and buff underparts with black spots. The black and white pattern resembles that of a ladder, hence their name “ladder-backed.” 

The male has a red crown with black and white spots near the front of their bill, whereas the female has only a black crown.

  • Length: 16-18cm (6 to 7 inches)
  • Weight: 21-48g (0.7 to 1.7 ounces)
  • Wingspan: 32-34cm (about 13 inches)
  • Size: Smaller than a Robin but larger than a Sparrow

The ladder-backed woodpecker has a loud “peek” sound. These small woodpeckers will drum on trees to mark their territories.

They are acrobatic foragers that rarely drill into trees to find their food but prefer to probe and glean insects from trees, cacti, and other desert foliage.

These woodpeckers primarily eat insects but will also eat fruits and seeds from desert foliage such as cacti. They will also eat suet, sunflower seeds, and peanuts from bird feeders.

The ladder-backed woodpecker is a cavity nester, which means they drill a hole in a desert tree to make their nest. Both the male and female take turns drilling the hole and incubate the eggs.

Females will lay between 4-7 eggs per clutch and incubate their eggs for about two weeks before the chicks hatch. 

5. Red-naped Sapsucker

The Red-naped Sapsucker is a medium-sized woodpecker found in western North America. They can be seen in the southern half of Nevada all year round and in the northern half during the warmer breeding months.

These birds are black with white stripes on their back and wings. They have a reddish cap, nape, and throat. Males have a full red throat, and females have some white feathers under their throats.

  • Length: 19-21cm (7.5 to 8.3 inches)
  • Weight: 32-66g (1.1 to 2.4 oz)
  • Wingspan: 41-43cm (16 to 17 inches)
  • Size: Similar in size to a Robin

The Red-naped Sapsucker is a very vocal bird, and their calls consist of a whining “waa waa” sound, and a harsher “waa” sound used to alert their mates. They also have a drumming call to mark their territory or attract a mate.

Red-naped sapsuckers primarily eat sap and insects. They drill small holes in trees to get to the sap, which they drink with their long tongues. They will also eat the insects that are attracted to the sap.

Their diet also includes fruits and berries when available.

Red-naped sapsuckers are cavity nesters, which means they will drill a hole in a tree to make their nest. Both the male and female will take turns drilling the hole and incubating the eggs.

Females will lay between 4-7 white eggs per clutch. They incubate their eggs for about two weeks before the chicks hatch.

After hatching, it takes roughly another four weeks for the chicks to fledge or grow their adult feathers and be able to fly on their own. The parents will use this time to teach them the sapsucking technique before they leave the nest.

6. White-headed Woodpecker

White-headed Woodpecker are a medium-sized woodpecker found in the western United States and Canada. They can seen all year round in a small region in western Nevada.

They have a solid black body with white stripes on their wings and a white head. The males have a red patch at the rear of their crowns, while the females have a black patch.

  • Length: 20-24cm (8 to 9.5 inches)
  • Weight: 48-70g (1.7 to 2.5 oz)
  • Wingspan: 36-44cm (14 to 17 inches)
  • Size: Similar in size to a Robin and Hairy Woodpecker

The White-headed Woodpecker is a very vocal bird with a “pik” call similar to the Hairy Woodpecker. Both males and females have a deep resonating drum that they use to communicate during nesting season, mark their territory or attract a mate.

White-headed Woodpeckers are bark foragers whose diet consists primarily of pine seeds and insects such as beetles, ants, and spiders.

The White-headed Woodpecker is a cavity nester, and males and females will typically drill a new hole each year.

Females will lay between 4-5 white eggs per clutch. Both Parents incubate their eggs for about two weeks before the chicks hatch.

After hatching, it takes roughly another four weeks for the chicks to fledge or grow their adult feathers and be able to fly on their own.

7. Red-breasted Sapsucker

The Red-breasted Sapsucker is a medium-sized woodpecker found along the west coast of North America. Their breeding grounds are in Canada’s British Columbia and along California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range. They can be seen on the western edge of Nevada during the colder non-breeding months.

These birds have black with white backs, and their wings have vertical white patches. Males and females have vivid red heads and breasts with a white spot between their eyes and bill.

They are primarily white with dark streaks below, and the northernmost species (Oregon upwards) has a more yellowy appearance below.

  • Length: 20-22cm (8 to 9 inches)
  • Weight: 53-63g (1.9 to 2.2 oz)
  • Wingspan: 37-40cm (14.5 to 16 inches)
  • Size: Similar in size to a Robin

The Red-breasted Sapsucker is a vocal bird whose calls consist of a nasally squeal-like “weaah” or a cat-like “meeew” sound. They also have a drumming call to mark their territory or attract a mate.

Red-breasted Sapsuckers drill into trees to feed on sap and will forage for insects on trees by probing and pecking under tree bark.

They will also catch flying insects and eat fruits and seeds when available. Not very common visitors at bird feeders but will eat suet and sunflower seeds if offered.

The Red-breasted Sapsucker is a cavity nester and prefers using dead or dying trees. Both the male and female will take turns drilling the hole and incubating the eggs.

Females will lay between 4-7 white eggs per clutch. They incubate their eggs for about two weeks before the chicks hatch. 

After hatching, it takes roughly another three weeks for the chicks to fledge or grow their adult feathers and be able to fly on their own. The parents will teach their fledglings the sap-sucking technique for one to two weeks before they leave the nest.

8. Lewis’s Woodpecker

Lewis’s Woodpeckers are medium-sized woodpeckers found in western North America. They can be seen in northern Nevada during the warmer breeding months and in southern Nevada during the colder non-breeding months.

These birds have glossy greenish-black upper parts with a pale gray breast band that wraps around the neck. Their bellies are a pinkish color, and their face is a deep red color.

  • Length: 26-28cm (10 to 11 inches)
  • Weight: 88-138g (3 to 4.9 oz)
  • Wingspan: 38-43cm (15 to 17 inches)
  • Size: Larger than a Robin but smaller than a Crow

Lewis’s woodpeckers are not as vocal as other woodpeckers but have soft calls consisting of a short but harsh “chur” sound and a clicky “yick” sound. Males will also drum on trees during courtship.

Lewis’s Woodpeckers are acrobatic birds that can be seen perched high in the trees or circling high in the air. 

They are aerial foragers, meaning they prefer to catch their food in flight by either swooping down to catch insects on the ground or by gleaning insects from trees. 

They will also eat fruits, nuts, and berries when available.

Lewis’s Woodpeckers are cavity nesters and will use the same nest cavity each year.

Females will lay between 6-7 white eggs per clutch. They incubate their eggs for about two weeks before the chicks hatch. 

After hatching, it takes roughly another five weeks for the chicks to fledge or grow their adult feathers and be able to fly on their own.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Kind Of Woodpeckers Are In Nevada?

There are eight observed woodpeckers in Nevada. The most common include the Northern Flicker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Red-naped Woodpecker, White-headed Woodpecker, Red-breasted Sapsucker and Lewis’s Woodpecker.

What Is The Largest Woodpecker In Nevada?

The Northern Flicker is the largest observed woodpecker in Nevada.

What Is The Smallest Woodpecker In Nevada?

The Downy Woodpecker is the Smallest woodpecker in Nevada.

Keep an Eye out for Woodpeckers in Nevada

Woodpeckers are an integral part of the Nevada landscape, providing a source of entertainment and beauty. Knowing the eight species that inhabit the state will help you identify them when out on your nature excursions.

Whether you’re visiting Nevada or just want to learn more about these birds, we hope this post has been helpful in teaching you about woodpeckers in Nevada.

If you have questions about identifying more species of birds in Nevada or finding out which ones live near you, let us know! We would love to help identify new bird species for our readers.

Happy Birding!

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I am an avid birdwatcher with a passion for learning all I can about these fantastic creatures. I love finding new species of birds in my backyard, neighborhood, or when I travel. I enjoy sharing everything I learn about how these creatures live their lives; feedback and experience is much appreciated!

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