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Sunday, January 4, 2015

Do woodpeckers live everywhere?

Northern Flicker

Downy Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker
There are 215 species of Woodpeckers and closely-related birds worldwide. In north Texas, five species are fairly common: Downy, Hairy, Red-bellied, Sapsucker and Flicker. However, I can think of several others that make rare, accidental appearances here. The only lands that have no Woodpeckers are islands; Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Madagascar.

High mortality right now.   Sadly, wild birds have a high death rate in cool weather – it varies among species, but can be as high as 70% of the first-year birds. This is mainly from exposure to the winds and weather, coupled with a lack of fresh, energy-producing food.

They seek out warm “roosts” for the night.   North Texans have been doing a good job of providing birds’ fall and winter needs, so we continue to have more birds here in cool weather, than in the spring and summer. Actually a majority of birds in north Texas don‘t migrate – they stay right here. Our winters are comparatively mild and, if birds can adapt, they’ll stay put. Cardinals, Blue jays, Chickadees, Robins, most Woodpeckers and Titmice are among those that stay in-state.

They may be less active (meaning they need less food and you see them less) but they’re HERE.  Some of the year-‘round birds are what’s called “partial migrators”. All that means is that they re-locate slightly (maybe a hundred miles or so, or into a valley) due to the available food.



OWEN YOST, in addition to being a blogger, is a licensed Landscape Architect emeritus who has lived and worked in north Texas for over 30 years. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award of the Native Plant Society of Texas, and is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), International Federation of Landscape Architects, National Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Society. His office is at in Denton. 

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