Do Woodpeckers Migrate?

Most woodpeckers are non-migratory.  In fact the Wryneck originating from Europe is the only known member of the woodpecker family which migrates in the classic sense of the word.  Ranging across most of continental Europe this species heads south during the fall season and to Africa in the winter.  Rarely, they have sometimes migrated to Spain as well.  Formerly breeders of the UK, these magnificent birds have been known to periodically undergo strong movements related to food shortages or overpopulation.  The United States is filled with many migrant woodpeckers such as the Red-headed & Lewis woodpeckers, the Northern Flicker, Williamson’s Woodpecker, Red-Breasted, Red Naped and Yellow Bellied Sapsucker, all of which vacate part of their breeding range and head south during the winter.  This helps explain why Britain’s only vagrant woodpecker is not a European species despite their relative proximity to the UK.

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