From its urban centers to its majestic dunes, and its miles of shoreline along Lake Michigan, Indiana has lots of spectacular areas to do some birdwatching. Northern Indiana is particularly an excellent place to look for woodpeckers, since many different species of birds flock close to bodies of water, like Lake Michigan.
Woodpeckers are particularly fun to watch in Indiana because the seven different species that make it their home live there year-round. That means you can spot woodpeckers even when several feet of snow cover the ground. Many of them will even visit your backyard if you put bird feeders and food out for them.
Grab your binoculars and get ready to spot seven species of woodpeckers that you can find in the state of Indiana.
Here is the list of species of woodpeckers in Indiana:
- Downy Woodpecker
- Red-Bellied Woodpecker
- Pileated Woodpecker
- Hairy Woodpecker
- Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker
- Northern Flicker
- Red-Headed Woodpecker
7 Types of Woodpeckers in Indiana
1. Downy Woodpecker
Scientific name: Dryobates pubescens
Size: 7 inches long
Weight: 0.75-0.99 ounces
Wingspan: 10-12 inches
The downy woodpecker is the smallest woodpecker in Indiana (and the rest of the US) and is extremely common across North America. But its tiny size doesn’t make it hard to spot. It’s probably the most common woodpecker to see in all of Indiana. That’s because it’s quite bold and isn’t afraid of people.
Additionally, it doesn’t migrate but instead stays in its home year-round, which means you can spot these woodpeckers even during the harsh winters in Indiana.
You can find this itty-bitty bird pretty much anywhere. It lives in rural areas, cities, suburban yards, and wilderness areas.
During the wintertime, they flock with other birds such as chickadees and nuthatches for safety and to find food. They build their nests in the cavity of trees where they live and raise their young. While they may change their habitat range during the seasons, they don’t travel too far.
Downy woodpeckers are black and white, with distinctly spotted wings and a white chest. Adult males have a bright red cap on the back of their heads, which makes them easy to identify from females.
If you love the idea of watching the behavior of these tiny woodpeckers in Indiana, hang a suet feeder in your yard. They are frequent visitors.
Because of their small size, they can land on small stems of plants to hunt for food. They’re also small enough that they often make nests in the wood siding of homes, much to the dismay of homeowners.
2. Red-bellied Woodpecker
Scientific name: Melanerpes carolinus
Size: 9.5 inches
Weight: 2.0-3.2 ounces
Wingspan: 13.0-16.5 inches
You’d probably expect these woodpeckers to have bright red bellies, but that’s not the case. Their bellies are typically pale, creamy white. Their back and wing feathers are black and white striped, and the females have a red nape. The males have a red nape and crown.
So where did the name “red-bellied” come from? The woodpeckers actually have red feathers on their bellies, but they are usually covered by white feathers so you can’t see them.
These active woodpeckers live all across the eastern United States, including Indiana, and you can spot them in the air as they fly by their undulating flight pattern.
Look for them in oak and hickory trees, where they like to feed and nest. They’ll also visit suet feeders.
3. Pileated Woodpecker
Scientific name: Dryocopus pileatus
Size: 16-19 inches
Weight: 9-14 ounces
Wingspan: 30 inches
The pileated woodpecker lives in Indiana year-round. They often make their nests in utility poles or high up in the deadwood of tall trees. Their favorite snack is carpenter ants, which they will dig rectangular holes deep into the wood to find.
They’ll also eat nuts and berries and will even dine on poison ivy berries. You may occasionally see them foraging on the ground for food, but they usually stick to the trees.
These distinctive birds are mostly black and white, but they stand out because of their bright red crest. The males also have a red stripe on the side of their faces. These are large birds, about the same size as a crow, and are the largest woodpeckers in Indiana.
The pileated woodpecker doesn’t migrate. It stays in the same area for its entire life. They will, however, move their nest if the eggs fall out of it.
The cartoon bird Woody Woodpecker was probably based on this species. It’s pretty easy to see the resemblance if you compare the comic to these birds.
4. Hairy Woodpecker
Scientific name: Picoides villosus
Size: 7.5 inches
Weight: 1.4-3.4 ounces
Wingspan: 13-16 inches
Hairy woodpeckers look a lot like downy woodpeckers, but you can tell them apart because hairy woodpeckers are bigger and have a longer bill. Their bills are almost the same length as their head.
They’re black and white all over. You can tell the genders apart because the adult males have a little red spot on the back of their heads.
These pretty woodpeckers aren’t as common in Indiana as their cousin, the downy woodpecker. However, you can still see these woodpeckers in parks, suburban areas, cemeteries, and other quiet wooded or open areas. They also visit suet feeders in suburban backyards.
Like their cousin the downy woodpecker, hairy woodpeckers don’t migrate during the cold weather and stay in the same place all year. They make their homes in the cavities of dead trees.
Research published in The Journal of Wildlife Management found that they prefer forests that have been recently burned because there is abundant food for them there.
Populations have been declining in the past few decades because they’re losing their habitat. They also face pressure from invasive birds like European starlings, which steal their nesting spots.
5. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Scientific name: Sphyrapicus varius
Size: 7.1-8.7 inches
Weight: 1.5-1.9 ounces
Wingspan: 13.4-15.8 inches
The yellow-bellied sapsucker lives in the eastern half of the US and heads to the southern part of the country in the winter, but it will stay in some northern states like Indiana all year-round.
These birds are mostly black and white, with white bellies, and black and white barred wings and back. You can tell the difference between males and females because the throat of the male is bright red. Females, on the other hand, have a white throat. Both the females and males have red foreheads.
The females have a faint yellow coloring to their bellies, but it can be so indistinct that you might not be able to identify it.
These sapsuckers drill little holes with their beaks and then they wait for the sweet sap to emerge from the tree. They lick this up, along with any insects that crawl along and get themselves stuck in the sap.
You might see them hanging out at your backyard suet feeder, but they mostly stick to forested areas. They aren’t nearly as bold as some of their woodpecker cousins.
6. Northern Flicker
Scientific name: Colaptes auratus
Size: 11-12 inches
Weight: 4-6.5 ounces
Wingspan: 16.5-20 inches
The distinctive northern flicker woodpecker lives in open habitats near trees, as well as in parks and cemeteries across Indiana. They are a frequent visitor to suet feeders in suburban and urban yards. Unlike some woodpeckers, they like to hunt around on the ground rather than in the trees.
They’re one of the most common woodpeckers in Indiana, but they don’t all look the same.
The males, females, and juveniles vary in appearance depending on where they live. They’re brown in color overall, with black spots. The underside of the wings and tails are yellow in the eastern half of the US and red in the western half of the US. These are the second largest woodpeckers in Indiana.
Some have a red or black stripe on their cheeks, and many of them have large, black crescents on their chest. Others have red marks on the back of the head. Some have a slightly gray head.
In the spring, you can hear the calls of Northern flickers for long distances. They have a distinct call and once you know what it sounds like, it’s easy to tell when they’re around.
They primarily eat ants, but they’ll also dine on other insects such as caterpillars, beetles, and termites. There are also instances of them catching young bats as they leave the nest. You can tempt them to visit your home by offering a suet feeder in the yard.
Flickers who live in northern climates like Alaska and Canada will migrate to places with warmer temperatures during the winter, but these woodpeckers stick around Indiana all year round.
Studies show that Northern Flickers can lose their nests to invaders like European starlings.
7. Red-headed Woodpecker
Scientific name: Melanerpes erythrocephalus
Size: 7.5-9.1 inches
Weight: 2.0-3.2 ounces
Wingspan: 16.5 inches
Red-headed woodpeckers are striking birds. They have solid black wings with a big white patch, and white bodies. To top it off, a deep, dark red head and neck that is so vibrant it looks like velvet.
The juveniles are brownish-black with white spots on the wings and dull red cheeks.
They don’t cross to the west side of the Rocky Mountains, but they can be found in all parts east, from Canada to Florida. These woodpeckers live year-round in Indiana. You can entice them to your yard during the winter by offering them some citrus or suet.
It’s one of the few woodpeckers out there who like to store food for the winter. They stuff seeds and nuts in bark or holes in trees. They have even been known to stuff food under shingles.
They also hunt their prey, snatching insects out of the air. That’s uncommon behavior for woodpeckers.
Also Read: Owls in Indiana