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Wildlife Centres: Woodpecker
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Woodpeckers of Ontario

As insectivores, woodpeckers play an important role by stopping the spread of pests. Their nest holes are used by other species. Most woodpeckers stay during the winter. Woodpeckers drum to attract mates, claim territory, and for communication. They have a thick skull to spread out the shock of the force. Feathers in their nostrils prevent sawdust from getting in. The tongue is sticky, with a barbed end. They have four clawed toes with two pointing forward, and two pointed backwards. There are 9 species of woodpeckers in Ontario.

American Three-toed Woodpecker

American Three-toed Woodpecker
Are found in disturbed areas, such as coniferous forests, that have been damaged by fires, wind storms, or floods. These places have lots of dead trees and limbs, which attract beetle larvae that these woodpeckers feast on. It breeds farther north than ANY other woodpecker in North America and can be found across the province.

Black-backed woodpecker

Black-backed Woodpecker
Locate recently burned areas just weeks after the fire blazes through. These birds feast on the wood-boring beetles that start infesting the dead trees. Black-backed Woodpeckers will stay in these areas from five to eight years after the initial burn. Habitat all Ontario except the far north.

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpeckers
Are one of the most common woodpeckers in Ontario. Relatively small and has a small bill compared to other woodpeckers. Inhabit suburban backyards, parks, orchards, and cemeteries. Found in large, mature forests with many dead and fallen trees. They rely on rotting wood consisting of ants, wood-boring beetles, and termites. They will supplement their diet with fruits and nuts. Habitat all Ontario except the far north and stay all year.

Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker
Are common in Ontario in mature forests, suburban backyards, urban parks, swamps, orchards, and even cemeteries. Appearance-wise, Hairy Woodpeckers have been compared to soldiers, as they have cleanly striped heads and an erect, straight-backed posture while on trees. Habitat all Ontario except the far north.

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker
 Are wonderfully handsome woodpeckers and are relatively common in Ontario. They are about the size of an American Robin and feature a black bib and spotted belly. They don’t act like typical woodpeckers. They spend a lot of time searching for ants and beetles on the forest floor by digging through the dirt.

Pileatted Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker
These birds are HUGE; adults can be up to 19 inches (48 cm) long and have a wingspan of 30 inches (76 cm). About the size of a crow. Are found in large, mature forests with many dead and fallen trees. They rely on rotting wood consisting of ants, wood-boring beetles, and termites to find food, although they will supplement their diet with fruits and nuts.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker
Are one of the most dominant birds at feeders. They rarely back down from any other bird. Red-bellied Woodpeckers have a long tongue that can extend nearly two inches past their bill. They are found only in South western Ontario.

Red-headed Woodpecker

Red-headed Woodpecker
 Has a large red head and a bill larger than most other woodpecker species. Populations have declined in Ontario by over 70% in the past 50 years. Habitat loss due to the destruction of giant beech forests, which produce beechnuts, one of their favorite foods. They are found only in South western Ontario.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
 Is a migratory woodpecker is found in Ontario in young deciduous forests. They need habitats with many growing trees, which are perfect for creating productive sap wells. Their favorites seem to be maples and birches. Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers rely heavily on tree sap as a high-energy food. Habitat all Ontario except the far north.

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