Pulaski County, Missouri Outdoors & Wildlife: Woodpeckers

Downy Woodpeckers have been identified in Pulaski County at Schlicht Springs Access, Bloodland Lake (Fort Leonard Wood), Dixon Towersite, Fort Leonard Wood Towersite, and Roubidoux Creek Conservation Area. Downy Woodpeckers are smaller than their lookalike, the Hairy Woodpecker. Being able to differentiate between the two is one of the first identification challenges that beginning bird watchers master. Downy Woodpeckers can be spotted in open woodlands habitats, city parks, and backyards. A Downy Woodpecker’s diet consist mainly of insects, although they will consume berries, acorns, and grains.

You can find Downy Woodpeckers in woodlots, residential areas, and city parks.

AllAboutBirds.org Cool Fact:
Woodpeckers don’t sing songs, but they drum loudly against pieces of wood or metal to achieve the same effect. People sometimes think this drumming is part of the birds’ feeding habits, but it isn’t. In fact, feeding birds make surprisingly little noise even when they’re digging vigorously into wood.

Downy Woodpeckers have been sighted at Schlicht Springs Access, Bloodland Lake (Fort Leonard Wood), Dixon Tower Site, Fort Leonard Wood Tower Site, and Roubidoux Creek Conservation Area in Pulaski County, MO.

Downy Woodpeckers have been sighted in several areas across Pulaski County, Missouri.

Hairy Woodpeckers have been identified in Pulaski County at Riddle Bridge Access. Larger than their lookalike, the Downy Woodpecker, its bill is much longer than the Downy Woodpecker. Hairy Woodpeckers are often sighted in mature woodlands, parks, and even cemeteries. A Hairy Woodpecker’s diet consist mainly of insects, although they will consume fruit and seeds.

You can spot a Hairy Woodpecker by watching the trunks and main branches of large trees, looking for a boldly patterned black-and-white bird.

AllAboutBirds.org Cool Fact:
Hairy Woodpeckers sometimes drink sap leaking from wells in the bark made by sapsuckers. They’ve also been seen pecking into sugar cane to drink the sugary juice.

Hairy Woodpeckers have been sighted at Riddle Bridge Gasconade River Access in Pulaski County, MO.

Hairy Woodpeckers have been sighted in Pulaski County, Missouri.

Northern Flickers have been identified in Pulaski County at Riddle Bridge Access, Dixon Towersite, Laughlin/Roubidoux Parks (Waynesville) and Roubidoux Creek Conservation Area. They are large brown woodpeckers with black-scalloped plumage. Northern Flickers can be seen in open woodland habitats. Northern Flickers diet consists mainly of insects. In winter they will eat fruits and seeds.

You can spot a Northern Flicker by walking through open woods or forest edges, but scan the ground. You may flush a flicker from a feeding spot up into a nearby tree.

AllAboutBirds.org Cool Fact:
Although it can climb up the trunks of trees and hammer on wood like other woodpeckers, the Northern Flicker prefers to find food on the ground. Ants are its main food, and the flicker digs in the dirt to find them. It uses its long barbed tongue to lap up the ants.

Northern Flickers have been spotted at Riddle Bridge Gasconade River Access, Dixon Tower Site, Waynesville's Laughlin and Roubidoux Parks, and Roubidoux Creek Conservation Area in Pulaski County, MO.

Northern Flickers have been spotted in several locations across Pulaski County, Missouri.

Pileated Woodpeckers have been spotted in Pulaski County at Ross Access, Schlicht Springs Access, Bloodland Lake (Fort Leonard Wood), Dixon Towersite, Fort Leonard Wood Towersite, Laughlin/Roubidoux Parks (Waynesville) Mitschele Access, Roubidoux Creek Conservation Access. They are very large woodpeckers- “one of the biggest, most striking forest birds on the continent. It’s nearly the size of a crow, black with bold white stripes down the neck and a flaming-red crest.” Pileated Woodpeckers live in mature woodlands and have an affinity for dead trees. They primarily eat carpenter ants.

You can spot a Pileated Woodpecker in stands of mature forest with plenty of dead trees and downed logs.

AllAboutBirds.org Cool Fact:
A Pileated Woodpecker pair stays together on its territory all year round. It will defend the territory in all seasons, but will tolerate new arrivals during the winter.

Pileated Woodpeckers have been identified at Ross Big Piney River Access, Schlicht Springs Gasconade River Access, Mitschele Gasconade River Access, and several other locations in Pulaski County, MO.

Pileated Woodpeckers have been identified in many areas across Pulaski County, Missouri.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers have been identified at Ryden Cave Conservation Area, Riddle Bridge Access, Schlicht Springs Access, Bloodland Lake (Fort Leonard Wood), Dixon Towersite, Fort Leonard Wood Towersite, Laughlin/Roubidoux Parks (Waynesville) Roubidoux Creek Conservation Area, and Mitschele Access, all in Pulaski County, Missouri. They are medium-sized woodpeckers about the same size as a Hairy Woodpecker. Red-bellied woodpeckers are often found in a forest habitat, especially in river bottoms. They mainly eat insects and spiders, but will also eat acorns and grapes.

Identify a Red-bellied Woodpecker by its call. Once you learn its rolling call, you’ll notice these birds everywhere.

AllAboutBirds.org Cool Fact:
A Red-bellied Woodpecker can stick out its tongue nearly 2 inches past the end of its beak. The tip is barbed and the bird’s spit is sticky, making it easier to snatch prey from deep crevices. Males have longer, wider-tipped tongues than females, possibly allowing a breeding pair to forage in slightly different places on their territory and maximize their use of available food.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers have been spotted at Ryden Cave Conservation Area and several other areas in Pulaski County, MO.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers have been spotted in many areas across Pulaski County, Missouri.

Red-headed Woodpeckers have been spotted at Dixon Towersite and Mitschele Access in Pulaski County, MO. This bird has been described as a “flying checkerboard”. Its head is crimson red, its body is white, and its wings are half white and half black. They are the only North American Woodpecker with an entirely red head and neck. Red-headed Woodpeckers breed in deciduous woodlands with oak or beech, groves of dead or dying trees, river bottoms, burned areas, recent clearings, beaver swamps, orchards, parks, farmland, grasslands with scattered trees, forest edges, and roadsides. They eat insects, fruits, and seeds. Like Lewis’s Woodpecker, Red-headed Woodpeckers are very adept at catching insects in the air.

Look for Red-headed Woodpeckers in scattered, open woodlots in agricultural areas and dead timber in swamps.

AllAboutBirds.org Cool Fact:
The striking Red-headed Woodpecker has earned a place in human culture. Cherokee Indians used the species as a war symbol, and it makes an appearance in Longfellow’s epic poem The Song of Hiawatha, telling how a grateful Hiawatha gave the bird its red head in thanks for its service.

Red-headed Woodpeckers have been sighted at Dixon Towersite and Mitschele Gasconade River Access in Pulaski County, MO.

Red-headed Woodpeckers have been sighted at Dixon Towersite and Mitschele Gasconade River Access in Pulaski County, Missouri.

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers have been spotted at Ryden Cave Conservation Area and Ross Access in Pulaski County, Missouri. They are fairly small woodpeckers and prefer a forest habitat, especially forests with young birch and maple trees. Just as their name implies, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers consume sap for the majority of their diet. They bore shallow holes in tree bark and lap up the leaking sap and any trapped insects with its specialized, brush-tipped tongue.

To find a sapsucker’s territory, keep an eye out for their distinctive, neatly organized rows of sapwells.

AllAboutBirds.org Cool Fact:
Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers have been found drilling sapwells in more than 1,000 species of trees and woody plants, though they have a strong preference for birches and maples.

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers have been spotted by birders at Ryden Cave Conservation Area and Ross Big Piney River Access, near Fort Leonard Wood, in Pulaski County, MO.

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers have been spotted by birders at Ryden Cave Conservation Area and Ross Big Piney River Access, near Fort Leonard Wood, in Pulaski County, MO.

To learn more about the size & shape, color pattern, behavior, habitat, food, nesting, migration, and conservation of Woodpeckers please visit www.allaboutbirds.org.

The Ozark Rivers Audubon Chapter meets the 2nd Thursday monthly at 7 pm at the Eugene F. Northern Community Center in Rolla, Missouri. You can visit them online at: http://ozarkriversaudubon.org/

For more information on bird watching in Missouri visit The Audubon Society of Missouri at http://www.mobirds.org.

For more information on birding, in Pulaski County, MO please read “Hitchhikers Guide To Birding In Pulaski County”

Take part in The Great Backyard Bird Count February 14-17, 2014! How many birds can you identify in your backyard and across Pulaski County? Tweet your Pulaski County wild bird photos to us at @PulCoUSA! #PulaskiCountyUSA

Tweet your wild bird pictures that were taken in #PulaskiCountyUSA to us! @PulCoUSA #BirdPulaski

Tweet your wild bird pictures that were taken in #PulaskiCountyUSA to us! @PulCoUSA #BirdPulaski

For more information about things to do in Pulaski County, Missouri visit Pulaski County Tourism Bureau at http://www.PulaskiCountyUSA.com or http://www.facebook.com/PulaskiCountyUSA.

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