Discover the 9 Exciting Woodpeckers of Utah to spot

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Woodpeckers of Utah

Utah, with its diverse landscape, is a birdwatcher’s paradise. The state is home to a remarkable variety of bird species, from the towering mountains to the sprawling deserts. Among these birds, the woodpeckers of Utah are some of the most fascinating to observe. 

These striking birds, with their distinctive beaks and plumage, can be found across Utah, making them a must-see for any birdwatcher visiting the state. 

What Are The Most Common Woodpeckers In Utah?

The most common woodpeckers in Utah include the Northern Flicker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Red-naped Sapsucker, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Lewis’s Woodpecker, American Three-toed Woodpecker, Williamson’s Sapsucker, and Acorn Woodpecker.

You can see nine woodpecker species in Utah throughout the year. Of the nine woodpeckers in Utah, the first two are more observed than the last seven, and all but two can be seen in the state all year round.

The two most observed woodpecker species are often seen in gardens and backyard feeders around Utah.

Whether you’re an avid birdwatcher or just curious about what kind of woodpecker species live in your area, here’s all you need to know about the Woodpeckers of Utah.

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

Utah Woodpeckers

According to the latest data from ebird, there are nine observed species of Woodpeckers in Utah. This data has been collected from over 21,100 dedicated bird watchers throughout the state.

Here are some quick facts:

9 Types Of Woodpeckers In Utah

1. Northern Flicker

Northern Flickers are medium-sized woodpeckers found across North America and is a year-round resident of Utah.

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
  • Northern Flicker Scientific Name: Colaptes auratus

Northern flickers have 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 visit backyard bird feeders and eat suet, black oil 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, are non-migratory, and can be seen in Utah 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
  • Downy Woodpecker Scientific name: Picoidis pubescens

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 seed, 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

Hairy Woodpeckers are medium-sized woodpeckers found in the eastern United States. They are non-migratory and are year-round residents of Utah.

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.

Hairy Woodpeckers 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
  • Hairy Woodpecker Scientific Name: Picoides villosus

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. Red-naped Sapucker

The Red-naped Sapsucker is a medium-sized woodpecker found in western North America. They can be seen in the pine forests around Dixie National Forest all year round and the in the rest of the state during the warmer breeding season.

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
  • Red-naped Sapsucker Scientific Name: Sphyrapicus nuchalis

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.

5. Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Ladder-backed woodpeckers are small woodpeckers found in the southwestern United States. They are non-migratory and can be seen all year round in the southwest region of Utah that borders Arizona.

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
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker Scientific Name: Picoidis scalaris

Ladder-backed Woodpeckers have 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.

Ladder-backed Woodpeckers are cavity nesters, 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. 

6. Lewis’s Woodpecker

Lewis’s Woodpeckers are medium-sized woodpeckers found in western North America. They can be seen in southwest Utah all year round, and in the rest of the state during their migration season.

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 Woodpecker Scientific Name: Melanerpes lewis 

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.

7. American Three-toed Woodpecker

American three-toed Woodpeckers are medium-sized woodpeckers found in northernmost North America, predominantly in the forests of Alaska and across Canada to Newfoundland.

They also inhabit areas in mainland USA along the rocky mountains and can be seen in the wooded areas of central Utah all year round.

These birds are primarily black and white above and white with fine black lines below. Their backs have white barring down the center, and males have a yellow patch on the foreheads.

  • Length: 21-23cm (8.3 to 9.1 inches)
  • Weight: 45-68g (1.6 to 2.4 oz)
  • Wingspan: 37-39cm (14.5 to 15.3 inches)
  • Size: Similar in size to a robin
  • American Three-toed Woodpecker Scientific Name: Picoides dorsalis

American three-toed Woodpeckers are shy birds, but its call is similar to that of a Downy Woodpecker, sounding like a soft “pik” sound. They also drum on trees to mark their territory or attract a mate.

These woodpeckers primarily eat insect larvae from bark beetles by chipping away at the bark of dead or decaying trees. They will also eat some fruits and sap from sapsucker holes.

American three-toed Woodpeckers are cavity nesters and will excavate a new cavity hole each year. 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. American three-toed woodpecker parents will teach their fledglings how to find food and avoid predators for up to six weeks.

8. Williamson’s Sapsucker

The Williamson’s Sapsucker is a medium-sized woodpecker found in the western United States. They can be seen in parts of eastern Utah during the warmer breeding season.

Male Williamson’s Sapsuckers are primarily black above with two white stripes on their face, white wing patches, red throat, and a yellow belly.

Female Williamson’s Sapsuckers have black and white barring on their back, a grayish-brown head, a black breast patch, and a yellow belly.

  • Length: 21-25cm (8.3 to 9.8 inches)
  • Weight: 44-55g (1.6 to 1.9 oz)
  • Wingspan: 43cm (17 inches)
  • Size: About the size of a Robin
  • Williamson’s Sapsucker Scientific Name: Sphyrapicus thyroideus

The Williamson’s Sapsucker is a vocal bird that makes a harsh “chyaah” sound, and both males and females drum on trees to mark territory and attract mates. Drumming is similar to other Sapsuckers but is slower and more regular.

Williamson’s Sapsuckers are bark foragers who primarily eat insects and sap but will also eat fruits and berries when available.

They drill holes in trees and then return to the holes throughout the day to get to the sap, and the insects that are attracted to it.

Williamson’s Sapsuckers are cavity nesters, and the male typically excavates a new hole each year to make their nest.

Females will lay between 4-5 white eggs per clutch, and both male and female will 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.

9. Acorn Woodpecker

The Acorn Woodpecker is a small to medium-sized woodpecker found along the west coast of North America to central Mexico. They are more commonly seen in Arizona all year round, but their range may extend into southern Utah occasionally. 

These birds are primarily black above with striking black and white patterned faces. Their belly is white with fine black lines. Males and females have red crowns, but males have more red than females.

  • Length: 19-23cm (7.5 to 9 inches)
  • Weight: 65-90g (2.3 to 3.2 oz)
  • Wingspan: 35-43cm (13.8 to 17 inches)
  • Size: About the size of a Robin
  • Acorn Woodpecker Scientific Name: Melanerpes formicivorus

Acorn woodpeckers are gregarious birds that live in small groups or “clans” of up to 20 individuals. These clans often share a large territory and cooperate in raising their young.

Acorn woodpeckers are mainly insectivores, meaning they primarily eat insects. However, they will also eat nuts stored in the fall and winter.

One of the Acorn Woodpecker’s most unusual behaviors is their caching or storing of food. They will collect acorns and other nuts and keep them in cache sites they excavate in trees

These cache sites can contain tens of thousands of nuts and serve as an essential food source for the acorn woodpecker during lean times.

Acorn woodpeckers are cavity nesters and will excavate their nest hole in either a dead tree or a dead branch of a live tree. Both parents and other group members will take turns excavating a cavity.

Females will lay between 3-7 white eggs per clutch, and both parents will incubate their eggs for about two weeks before the chicks hatch. Other group members will help incubate the eggs from time to time.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Kind Of Woodpeckers Live In Utah?

Nine kinds of woodpecker species live in Utah. The most common woodpeckers include the Northern Flicker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Red-naped Sapsucker, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Lewis’s Woodpecker, American Three-toed Woodpecker, Williamson’s Sapsucker, Acorn Woodpecker.

Are Woodpeckers Protected In Utah?

Woodpeckers in Utah are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and state regulations. Hunting or killing any woodpecker species is illegal throughout the United States unless a hunting permit has been approved by the local Fish and Wildlife Service office.

What’s The Biggest Woodpecker In Utah?

The Northern Flicker is the largest in Utah.

What Is The Smallest Woodpecker In Utah?

The Downy Woodpecker is the Smallest in Utah.

Keep An Eye Out For Woodpeckers In Utah

Woodpeckers are fascinating birds that can be found all over the world, including in Utah. Woodpecker species native to Utah include the Northern Flicker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Red-naped Sapsucker, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Lewis’s Woodpecker, American Three-toed Woodpecker, Williamson’s Sapsucker and Acorn Woodpecker.

Each species has unique behaviors and habits, making them an exciting addition to any backyard or nature walk. With some research, you can learn more about each type of woodpecker so you can appreciate their beauty and uniqueness even more!

Whether you’re a bird-watching enthusiast or just curious about the types of Woodpeckers that can reside in Utah, we hope this article has provided all the information you need to know.

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

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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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