5 White Birds with Spotted Black Wings and Red Head

Just as the color of the plumage, markings on birds come in many different iterations and patterns. One of these patterns is white with spotted black wings and red head.

This color pattern is often found in woodpeckers, so it’s not surprising that the birds that I’ll feature are different species of woodpeckers.

Because they all share this color scheme or pattern, some of these birds are so similar that they’re often mistaken for one another.

Hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll be able to identify which bird is which, and how they are different.

Great Spotted Woodpecker

A woodland specialist, the Great Spotted Woodpecker inhabits the mature broadleaved woodlands in the west of Ireland. They’re not strangers to coniferous woodlands either and will venture into parks and gardens too.

With their thick and powerful beak that will hammer away at the bark of trees, the Great Spotted Woodpecker is just as easy to spot as it is easy to hear.

They feed on insects such as beetle larvae, caterpillars, spiders, and adult beetles. They use their strong beaks and flexible tongues to extract larvae from tree barks.

Besides insects, they also eat seed and nuts, and even the eggs and nestlings of other birds, which make their nests in tree cavities.

If you want to identify this Woodpecker, you’ll need to look for the following identifying features:

  • White cheeks with black lines underneath
  • Black cap
  • Males have a red spot on the back of the head
  • Black wings and back with white markings and spots
  • Pale white breast
  • Bright red rump.

The Great Spotted Woodpecker is slightly smaller than a blackbird but larger than the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, which I’m going to cover next.

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

With about the size of a sparrow, the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker is much smaller than the Great Spotted one, so while they might look similar when it comes to their color patterns, the size difference will help you tell them apart.

Just as their much larger counterparts, Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers have a white and black head. Males of the species have a bright red cap, which is absent in the females.

The wings are black with white streaks on the back, while the breast is white with dark streaks.

Unlike the Great Spotted Woodpecker, the Lesser Spotted one has a small but pointed beak.

Most of its population is concentrated in the mature woodlands of the southern parts of England. You can spot it in smaller numbers in Wales.

As for its diet, this woodpecker species searches for insects on old, rotten or dead trees. Staples of its diet include beetle larvae, aphids, and other insects or invertebrates.

Juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker

Another woodpecker that fits the description in the title of this article is the juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker.

Unlike the adult of the species, the juvenile features a brown head that slowly starts to acquire the red coloring of the adult as well as spotted black wings.

Adults have a black back with completely white wing patches, however, the white on the wings of juveniles show black spots on the trailing edge.

While this woodpecker species also hunts for insects by hammering away at the bark of trees, it also catches them in flight or forages for them on the ground. Besides insects, it also feeds on berries and seeds.

In winter, they occasionally visit bird feeders, where they have an appetite for suet.

You can spot the red-headed woodpecker in the open woodlands of north-eastern North America. They especially enjoy pine savannas, but any open woodland with a clear understory is attractive to them.

They build their nests in dead trees or dead parts of trees, and reuse nesting cavities multiple years in a row.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

About the size of a robin, the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is another woodpecker with spotted black wings and red head.

The plumage is white and black, with the face being boldly patterned. The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker has a red forehead. This can be observed in both sexes of the species. The male, however, has a red throat as well, which is absent in the female.

There’s also a black band under the red throat followed by a yellow spot or marking, which may or may not extend to the rest of the belly and underpants. Underpants can be white or yellowish.

This woodpecker drills rows of shallow holes in the bark of trees, which it then uses to extract the sap of the tree along with any insects that may be caught there.

It inhabits both conifer forests and hardwood forests of northern North America. In September, early October, it leaves its breeding grounds to seek out warmer regions in the south of the U.S., Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies.

Northern Flicker

Possibly the most impressively colored of all the woodpeckers I discussed in this article; the Northern Flicker is a sleek-looking bird whose gentle appearance reminds us of the general demeanor of a dove.

With beady black eyes, crimson red markings on the head or face, the Northern Flicker is brown overall.

Its plumage is richly patterned with black spots on the belly and underpants, and crescents and bars on the wings and back. The white rump is mostly visible in flight or when the bird is perched up in a tree.

Eastern birds have red tail feathers, while western ones have yellow tail feathers. The bird can be found throughout North America.

Unlike its other cousins, the Northern Flicker has more atypical feeding habits in that you’ll mostly see it feeding on the ground, searching for ants and beetles.


As you can see, there’s a lot of variation in size and color patterns when it comes to woodpeckers. Some are almost alike, if not for the size difference (e.g., Great Spotted Woodpecker and the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker).

Other woodpeckers like the Northern Flicker are almost radically different both in their physical appearance and their feeding habits, proving the amazing variety of woodpeckers.

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