As the most northeast state in the US, Maine has some extremely cold winters and warm summers. The state features miles and miles of coastline in addition to the majestic granite mountains in Acadia National Park.
While many people know that moose and lighthouses are familiar sights, locals know that woodpeckers and other birds can readily be found – if you know where to look.
Whether you live in Portland or you have a farm way up in the Big Woods, there are multiple species of woodpeckers that you can see in Maine. Some live there all year-round despite the famously chilly winters, while others only visit during the breeding season.
No matter whether you’re visiting Maine’s many stunning nature areas or you’re lucky enough to live in the state, there are lots of opportunities for birdwatching.
Here is the list of species of woodpeckers in Maine:
- Downy Woodpecker
- Pileated Woodpecker
- Hairy Woodpecker
- Northern Flicker
- Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker
- American Three-toed Woodpecker
- Black-backed Woodpecker
7 Types of Woodpeckers in Maine
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 Maine, but its tiny size doesn’t make it difficult to spot. This cute bird is pretty bold and isn’t afraid of people. It’s probably the most common woodpecker to see in all of Maine, so the chances are excellent that you’ll be able to see this one.
Another reason that they’re so easy to find is that they don’t migrate. Instead, they stay in their home year-round, which means you can find these woodpeckers even during the winters in Maine when some other birds head south.
The downy woodpecker lives everywhere in Maine, including 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, hang a suet feeder in your yard. They’re the most frequent visitor of suet feeders of all the different woodpeckers in Maine.
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. Pileated Woodpecker
Scientific name: Dryocopus pileatus
Size: 16-19 inches
Weight: 9-14 ounces
Wingspan: 30 inches
The pileated woodpecker lives in Maine year-round. They prefer forests with lots of tall trees, which Maine is rich in. They often make their nests in utility poles or high up in the deadwood of tall trees. Their favorite meal is carpenter ants, and they will dig rectangular holes deep into the wood to find them.
They’ll also eat local nuts and berries. Plus, they 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 Maine.
The pileated woodpecker doesn’t migrate. It stays in the same area for its entire life. They will, however, move their nest to someplace nearby 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 bird to these pretty woodpeckers.
3. Hairy Woodpecker
Scientific name: Picoides villosus
Size: 7.5 inches
Weight: 1.4-3.4 ounces
Wingspan: 13-16 inches
Hairy woodpeckers look similar to downy woodpeckers, but they’re easy to tell apart because Hairy woodpeckers are much larger. They also have longer bills, which are almost the same length as their head.
They’re black and white all over. You can tell the genders from one another because the adult males have a little red spot on the back of their heads.
These pretty woodpeckers aren’t as common in Maine as their cousin, the downy woodpecker. Don’t worry; you can still usually see them in parks, suburban areas, cemeteries, and other quiet wooded or open areas. They also visit suet feeders in suburban backyards.
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.
4. 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 Maine. 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 another one of the most common types of woodpeckers in Maine, and they’re quite distinct looking. These are the second largest woodpeckers in North America.
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.
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, as they breed, you can hear the calls of Northern flickers for a long way off. They have an extremely distinct call, and once you know what it sounds like, it’s easy to tell when they’re nearby.
They primarily eat ants, but they’ll also dine on other insects such as caterpillars, beetles, and termites. This is definitely a bird you want to have around! 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 Maine all year round.
Studies show that Northern Flickers can lose their nests to invaders like European starlings.
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 breeds in Maine, so you can only spot this woodpecker in the state during that period. Otherwise, they head further south during the nonbreeding season.
These birds are primarily 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 male’s throat 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 on bellies, but it can be so indistinct that you might not be able to identify it unless you get close.
These sapsuckers drill tiny holes with their beaks, and then they wait for the sweet sap to leak from the tree. They lick this up, along with any insects that crawl along and get 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, so you need to be patient.
6. American Three-Toed Woodpecker
Scientific name: Picoides dorsalis
Size: 8.3-9.1 inches
Weight: 1.6-2.4 ounces
Wingspan: 14.6-15.3 inches
This woodpecker primarily makes Canada its home, but you will rarely see it pop down to North Dakota, Maine, Michigan, and Maine. It also lives year-round in western parts of the country, including Idaho, Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming.
This bird likes to hunt in burned-out areas and forests where beetles have killed lots of trees. It hunts for insects, pulling and stripping away bark until it finds what it is looking for. No wonder it loves the western part of the country, given all the wildfires there in recent years.
Yes, this bird only has three toes, but you’ll most easily be able to identify it by its coloring. It’s primarily black, but it does have white barring on its sides and back, and the chest is white. The male has a bright yellow crown.
They are scarce in Maine, but they do appear there now and then, so keep an eye out.
7. Black-backed Woodpecker
Scientific name: Picoides arcticus
Size: 9.1 inches
Weight: 2.1-3.1 ounces
Wingspan: 15.8-16.5 inches
Many woodpeckers in North America are some pattern of black and white, often with a red patch on the head. This woodpecker stands out because of its solid black back and white chest. It has a black face with a distinct white stripe. The male has a small yellow crown.
It makes its home in burned-out forests across all of Canada and the western US, with a few colonies in areas like northern Michigan, Maine, Minnesota, and Ohio. You really have to be diligent to find them in Maine, but it’s totally possible. Just don’t look for them on the coast. They don’t live there.
Its black coloring helps it blend in with the charred trees that it hunts on. It eats beetle larvae and will hang out in recently-burned areas for several years before moving onto more newly burned areas.
Also Read: Owls in Maine