This guide should quickly clear up any ID needs you have for male vs female woodpeckers.
Male and female woodpeckers often look very similar with just a lack of color, usually red, on the head or face in females.
It can also be difficult to tell the difference between species, so take a look at this quick picture ID guide for the most common species of woodpecker in North America.
The difference between male and female Hairy Woodpeckers is the males have a red patch at the back of the head but females do not.
Hairy Woodpecker Male
Male Hairy Woodpeckers have a red patch towards the back of the head
Hairy Woodpecker Female
Female Hairy Woodpeckers do not have the red patch towards the back of the head
Downy Woodpecker Male vs Female
The difference between male and female Downy Woodpeckers is the males have a red patch at the back of the head but females do not.
Downy Woodpecker Male
Male Downy Woodpeckers have a red patch on the back of the head. They are also smaller than Hairy Woodpeckers
Downy Woodpecker Female
Females Downy Woodpeckers do not have the red patch on the head
Red-bellied Woodpecker Male vs Female
The difference between male and female Red-bellied Woodpeckers is the red cap reaches all the way to the beak from the nape of the neck but in the females, the red is only on the neck and back of the head but not the front on the head.
Red-bellied Woodpecker Male
Male Red-bellied Woodpeckers have red on the top of their head and down the back of the neck
Red-bellied Woodpecker Female
Female Red-bellied Woodpeckers only have red on the back of the neck and not on the top of the head
Pileated Woodpecker Male vs Female
The difference between male and female Pileated Woodpeckers is the male has a red patch n the cheek but in the females it is black.
Pileated Woodpecker Male
Male Pileated Woodpeckers have a red patch on the cheek
Pileated Woodpecker Female
Female Pileated Woodpeckers do not have the red patch on the cheek
Northern Flicker Male vs Female
The difference between male and female Northern Flickers is the males have either a red or black mark on their face from the beak towards the neck that looks like a ‘mustache’.
Northern Flicker Male
Male Northern Flickers have a 'mustache' which is either black or red, depending if they are from eastern or western states, and it runs from the beak towards the neck
Northern Flicker Female
Female Northern Flickers do not have a 'mustache'
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Male vs Female
The difference between male and female Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers is the male has a red throat but the females’ are white.
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Male
Male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker have red throats
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Female
Females Yellow-bellied Sapsucker have white throats
Acorn Woodpecker Male vs Female
The difference between male and female Acorn Woodpeckers is in the larger red cap on the head of the male.
Acorn Woodpecker Male
Male Acorn Woodpeckers have a red cap that reaches to the face and meets the white of the face
Acorn Woodpecker Female
Females Acorn Woodpeckers have a smaller red cap that is fully surrounded with black
Red-headed Woodpecker Male vs Female
Red-headed Woodpecker Male and Female
Both Male and Female Red-headed Woodpeckers look the same. However, juveniles are brown and do not have red heads. So if you spot a drab woodpecker with a Red-headed Woodpecker it is probably a mother and fledgling.