WOODPECKERS

Pileated Woodpecker (Seen in The Woodlands, TX)

The female has a black forehead,
and her "mustache" is black as well.

(Unless they rediscover the Ivory-billed Woodpecker) this is our largest woodpecker! Note the red mustache & Red forehead -- This is a male. 
Red-headed Woodpecker

 This is one of only four woodpeckers known to store food, and the ONLY one known to cover the food (insects or seed) with wood or back. Grasshoppers are stored alive, but wedged into crevices (roof shingles, fences, under bark) so tightly that they can't escape!

The male and female Red-headed Woodpecker look the same. (Not only will this woodpecker attack other birds to protect territory, but is also know to remove eggs and destroy nests of other species, including duck eggs in duck-nesting boxes.)

Whoa!! What's THAT brown-headed bird?! It's an immature Red-headed Woodpecker, and he (or she) will look like this for half a year!

Red-bellied Woodpecker (Seen in The Woodlands, TX)
Red-bellied Woodpecker, male Red-bellied Woodpecker, female
Red-bellied Woodpecker, female Red-bellied Woodpecker, juvenile
Downy Woodpecker (Seen in The Woodlands, TX)
Downy Woodpecker, female 
The Downy Woodpecker is the smallest woodpecker in North America.
 
Downy Woodpecker, male
(note red on top of head)
Juvenile (July-August), Both sexes have red on top of their head. Notice how it changes direction and location, should this little one be a male!
Ladderback Woodpecker
Ladder-backed Woodpecker (male)  Ladder-backed Woodpecker (female) - Common in mesquite and cactus territory.
Gold-fronted Woodpecker
Golden-fronted Woodpecker (male) -This bird's range is from extreme SW Oklahoma to Nicaragua, thus most of the U.S. population is in Texas.  It's the southwestern counterpart of the red-bellied woodpecker.   
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Seen in The Woodlands, TX)
The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is different from other woodpeckers. Instead of drilling for bugs under the bark, this bird drills into the tree in pursuit of the tender cambium layer of the tree, and it laps up the sap that flows.  Thus, unlike the barbed spear-ended tongue of other woodpeckers, this bird's tongue is brushlike. While both sexes (adult) have a red forehead and the black-and-white face pattern, the bird above is a female because of their white throat; the male's is red.

Look for the large white wing-patch -- both sexes have it, and that's the giveaway!

This is the male. Isn't he gorgeous?!

The female is below, for comparison.

The juvenile Yellow-bellied Sapsucker takes a long time (late winter/March) to get the definitive appearance of the adult. This photo was taken in March, and the colors of a female are just now showing.
 
Red-Cockaded Woodpecker
(PROTECTED - Jones State Forest, just outside The Woodlands)

From the Wikipedia:

"The Red-cockaded Woodpecker's most distinguishing feature is a black cap and nape that encircle large white cheek patches. Rarely visible, except perhaps during the breeding season and periods of territorial defense, the male has a small red streak on each side of its black cap called a cockade, hence its name.

"The Red-cockaded Woodpecker plays a vital role in the intricate web of life of the southern pine forests. A number of other birds and small mammals use the cavities excavated by Red-cockaded Woodpeckers .... Larger woodpeckers may take over a Red-cockaded Woodpecker cavity, sometimes enlarging the hole enough to allow Eastern Screech Owls, Wood Ducks and even Raccoons to move in later."

"The Red-cockaded Woodpecker makes its home in mature pine forests. Longleaf Pines  are most commonly preferred, but other species of southern pine are also acceptable. While other woodpeckers bore out cavities in dead trees where the wood is rotten and soft, the Red-cockaded Woodpecker is the only one which excavates cavities exclusively in living pine trees. The older pines favored by the Red-cockaded Woodpecker often suffer from a fungus called red heart rot  which attacks the center of the trunk, causing the inner wood, the heartwood, to become soft. Cavities generally take from 1 to 3 years to excavate.

"The aggregate of cavity trees is called a cluster and may include 1 to 20 or more cavity trees on 3 to 60 acres The average cluster is about 10 acres. Cavity trees that are being actively used have numerous, small resin wells which exude sap. The birds keep the sap flowing apparently as a cavity defense mechanism against rat snakes and possibly other predators.

 
Northern Flicker
Northern Flickers spend lots of time on the ground because they like to eat bugs and beetles. In in trees they’re often perched upright on horizontal branches instead of leaning against their tails on a trunk. They fly in an up-and-down path using heavy flaps interspersed with glides, like many woodpeckers.