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.


  1. Steve bray says

    I have a woodpecker on my bird table eating suet balls since feb but have not seen him since may just wondered if they migrate

    • Rob Stewart says

      I saw your question while I was looking for the same answer! In our case though, (East Sussex) the male and female came back to the bird table / nut feeders throughout July, and have only now disappeared. The adults frequented our garden from when we first came here, in January of this year, and August is the first month we have been aware of their absence. Where they go and what they eat at this time remains a mystery to me; websites seem to differ in their opinions. We do miss them and their loud demands for the nut hangers to be refilled!

  2. ron in conroe texas says

    i m in south montgomery couty texas been feeding birds 25 ‘ from back door were in water shed river area red headed woodpeckers in front yard 3 came for nut every day ! august disappeared ?? had 4 bluejays at a time only 1 comein around now 50 doves at a time had 10 redbirds n off spring only couple + 3 r 4 females most left august ! sure miss those woodpeckers !? 8 /28/14

  3. kim says

    I haven’t seen my woodpeckers for the past month (June), i was getting a lot of sparrows so i only fed in early morning and evening, i hope i didn’t drive them away…i miss them and my chickadees are also gone, makes me sad…where did they go? I had them all winter and spring, but now i don’t see any of them.

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