West Virginia is home to a multitude of wildlife species including hundreds of birds. Some of these bird species are native and remain in West Virginia year-round to mate and roost. Native species such as the red-bellied woodpecker, the pileated woodpecker, barred owl and Carolina wren remain throughout the year, rather than migrating south for warmer temperatures, and grace the forests, skies and neighboring backyards.
The red-bellied woodpecker is a pale, medium-size bird which is common to the forests of West Virginia. They are an unforgettable sight with black and white striped backs, a gleaming red cap and neck. The red-bellied woodpecker is a rare species of woodpecker that can be spotted with white patches near the wingtip as they fly. They may be found perched and picking, rather than pecking, in medium to large oak, hickory, young hardwoods and pine tree trunks. They may also emerge from the forest to appear at backyard feeders.
The pileated woodpecker is known throughout West Virginia for its loud ringing call. It is almost as large as a crow and is the biggest woodpecker in North America. The pileated woodpecker digs rectangular holes in trees to find ants for nourishment and may even dig deep enough to split the tree into two pieces. The pileated woodpecker dwells in pairs that remain together guarding territory year-round. They prefer to nest in large trees situated in young forests and will remain until deforestation occurs.
The barred owl is known for its distinctive “who cooks for you” hoot. Some bellies have pink feathers due to consuming large amounts of crayfish. The aggressive barred owl may displace the endangered spotted owl, however, there are hybrids of the two combined species. The great horned owl, who resides in the same territory, is a predator of the barred owl. However the barred owl will avoid the area occupied by the horned owl to avoid risk.
The male Carolina wren’s "tea-kettle, tea-kettle, tea-kettle" song is the loudest per volume of birds in West Virginia. The Carolina wren is a quick and active little bird with a pointed bill and tail that cocks over their back. They have red-brown backs, white chins and a distinctive white eye stripe. A male and female may mate during any part of the year and will remain together for a lifetime within their territory. The male and female Carolina wren sing together in unison creating a singular sound. They are sensitive to cold weather, and the population decreases during severe winters.