Floridian Nature

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Florida Birds: Woodpeckers
rare or extinct ivory billed woodpeckerIvory-Billed Woodpecker- The Ivory-billed Woodpecker  is one of several species whose numbers have dwindled to the point where it is uncertain whether any remain. The species is listed as critically endangered and possibly extinct by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The Ivory-billed Woodpecker ranks among the largest woodpeckers in the world and the largest in the United States. The bird is shiny blue-black with white markings on its neck and back and extensive white on the trailing edge of both the upper- and underwing. In adults, the bill is ivory in color, chalky white in juveniles. Ivory-bills have a prominent crest, although in juveniles it is ragged. The crest is black in juveniles and females. In males, the crest is black along its forward edge, changing abruptly to red on the side and rear. The chin of an ivory-bill is black. When perched with the wings folded, ivory-bills of both sexes present a large patch of white on the lower back, roughly triangular in shape. These characteristics distinguish it from the smaller and darker-billed Pileated Woodpecker. The Ivory Billed Woodpecker was last seen in Florida in 1969!

red cockaded woodpeckerRed-Cockaded Woodpecker- Once common in the vast expanses of mature pine forests that covered much of the southeastern coastal plain, the red-cockaded woodpecker is now a federally listed endangered species. A red-cockaded woodpecker is slightly larger than a bluebird. It has a large white cheek patch, and the top and back of the head are black. The back is barred with black and white. The red-cockade, on the male only, consists of a small red streak above the cheek and is rarely visible. The red-cockaded woodpecker is unusual in two ways. First, it is the only woodpecker that excavates cavities in the living part of pine trees. Although they will use other pines such as loblolly, shortleaf or slash, they usually prefer longleaf pines that are 90 - 100 years old. Secondly, red-cockaded woodpeckers have an advanced social system. These woodpeckers live in groups consisting of two to nine birds.

pileated woodpeckers in FloridaPileated Woodpecker- Nearly as large as a crow, the Pileated Woodpecker is the largest woodpecker in most of North America. Its loud ringing calls and huge, rectangular excavations in dead trees announce its presence in forests across the continent. The Pileated Woodpecker digs characteristically rectangular holes in trees to find ants. These excavations can be so broad and deep that they can cause small trees to break in half. The feeding excavations of a Pileated Woodpecker are so extensive that they often attract other birds. Other woodpeckers, as well as House Wrens, may come and feed there. A Pileated Woodpecker pair stays together on its territory all year round. It will defend the territory in all seasons, but will tolerate floaters during the winter.


male red bellied woodpeckerRed-Bellied Woodpecker- The Red-bellied Woodpeckers are pale, medium-sized woodpeckers common in forests of the East. Their strikingly barred backs and gleaming red caps make them an unforgettable sight – just resist the temptation to call it a Red-headed Woodpecker, a somewhat rarer species that's mostly black on the back with big white wing patches. Learn the Red-bellied's rolling call and you’ll notice these birds everywhere. Look for Red-bellied Woodpeckers hitching along branches and trunks of medium to large trees, picking at the bark surface more often than drilling into it. Like most woodpeckers, these birds have a characteristic undulating flight pattern.

downy woodpeckerDowny Woodpecker- The Downy Woodpecker may be the most familiar woodpecker in North America. It occurs throughout North America where woodlands are found, being absent only from tundra regions of Canada and Alaska, and from southern Texas. The downy woodpecker is virtually identical to the Hairy Woodpecker, but is much smaller and with a much shorter bill. Only 15 to 17 cm long, the Downy Woodpecker is very small compared to most North American woodpeckers. Its contrasting black and white plumage gives it a formal tuxedo like appearance. The adult male sports a red patch on the back of his head. The short, straight, chisel-like bill of the downy woodpecker is especially suited for probing for insects and insect larvae, and for chipping a cavity for a nest site.

common yellow flickerCommon Yellow Flicker- The Northern Flicker is a bird of open areas and forest edges wherever open ground is available. This species is also known as the Common Flicker and the Yellow-shafted Flicker. Unlike most species of woodpeckers, Flickers forage mostly on the ground, consuming ants, termites, caterpillars, crickets, grasshoppers, other insects, spiders, berries, seeds, and nuts. The Flicker is about 13 inches long with a wingspan of 18 to 21 inches. Weights range from 4 to 6 ounces. Flickers have a gray crown with a prominent red chevron on the back of the head. The yellow shafts of the feathers and its habit of flicking its bill give the Yellow-shafted Flicker its name. The yellow shafts of the primary flight feathers is noticeable in this photo. The spectacular underside of the Yellow-shafted Flicker makes it easy to see how this bird got its name.
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