Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Woodpeckers of Washington DC

Last week we were hearing a Northern Flicker drumming on our neighbor's vent pipe several times a day. This weekend a red-bellied woodpecker started in on our chimney cap. They're not stupidly looking for insects in metal objects; they just want to make some noise. It's that time of year -- and what better way to advertise your woodpecking prowess than by pecking as loud and fast as you can? (And boy, does our chimney make a good speaker system!)

In fact, it was a six-woodpecker weekend. We regularly get downy and hairy woodpeckers at our awesome peanut feeder. And we saw a sapsucker and a pileated in Rock Creek Park on Saturday. So I thought it would be fun to put together this little guide.


With a little practice you can also tell most woodpeckers apart by their calls, or even by the speed of their drumming. (The exception is downy and hairy woodpeckers, which sound exactly the same to me.)

Woodpecker Calls Drums
Downy Woodpecker
Picoides pubescens
Hairy Woodpecker
Picoides villosus
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Sphyrapicus varius
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Melanerpes carolinus
Red-headed Woodpecker
Melanerpes erythrocephalus
Northern Flicker
Colaptes auratus
Pileated Woodpecker
Dryocopus pileatus
All recordings copyright 2015 Cornell University and found in their wonderful Macaulay Library.