There are nine species of woodpeckers found in Maine: Red-headed (Melanerpes erythrocephalus), Red-bellied (Melanerpes carolinus), Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius), Downy (Picoides pubescens), Hairy (Picoides villosus), Three-toed (Picoides tridactylus), Black-backed (Picoides arcticus), Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) and Pileated (Dryocopus pileatus).

Woodpeckers play a vital role in helping to control insect pests. Woodpeckers can be considered pests when they use buildings in their search of food, or as a surface for territorial/social drumming, or for nest construction. Such activities not only create disturbing noises, but, more significantly, may cause structural damage.

downy woodpecker
The downy woodpecker is the smallest in Maine, up to 7 inches long. Adult males have a red plumage "spot" on top-back of head. Found in or near woods, also visiting suet and sunflower feeders.

pileated woodpecker
The pileated woodpecker is the largest woodpecker in Maine, up to 16 inches long. It has a distinctive red crest.

yellow-bellied sapsucker
The yellow-bellied sapsucker get about 9 inches long. Adult males have a red throat with a black border, female has a white throat; both have a red stripe on top of the head.

red-bellied woodpecker
The red-bellied woodpecker is medium-sized, about 9 inches, with a bright red nape, brownish body and barred back and wings. Usually seen at suet and sunflower seed feeders.

pileated damage to pine tree
Pileated woodpeckers are usually found in mature forests. Their favorite food is carpenter ants–they excavate oblong holes in trees looking for them.

yellow-bellied sapsucker damage
The yellow-bellied sapsucker drills hole sin the bark of trees to allow the sap to run. They return to drink the sap and eat insects that are attracted. Over time this may weaken the tree and provide access for harmful insects or plant diseases.

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[Photos, left to right: David Cappaert, Michigan State University, Bugwood.org; USDA Forest Service - North Central Research Station Archive, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org; James Solomon, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org; Johnny N. Dell, Bugwood.org; Joseph O'Brien, USDA Forest Service, Bugwood.org; Randy Cyr, Greentree, Bugwood.org]