Just got back from the Bitterroot, and was happy to find your message. This is the one year in last five I won't be in Miles City, darn it, but this is very good info to know. Then again, I may just head out there anyway :) In any case, I'll put in an update with anything I find. I seem to have some problems with posting to the group, but will try to get those resolved as well.
Thank you again and Happy Birding!
I don't know if you consider Miles City close to Billings, but I don't know if you can find Red-headed Woodpeckers reliably any closer to Billings. Here are some locations in order of most likely to produce woodpeckers for you. Remember that while Red-headed Woodpeckers are reliable in Miles City, they are migratory here and I'm not sure they will be back this early. As far as Sapsuckers go, you will probably have much better luck in Sheridan, especially if you get into the Bighorns a little bit.
1. Pumping Plant Park (also known as the Custer County Art Gallery). Park in front of the art gallery. Sometimes there are Red-headed woodpeckers in the cottonwoods here. I usually have better luck around back. Last year, I saw two adults and two juveniles, so there was successful breeding around here someplace.
2. Pirogue Island State Park. From the parking area, walk into the park along the main trail. You will pass through riparian woodland and cross the onto the 'island' hopefully without having to cross water (usually water level is low enough that the small channel is dry). Continue until you come out into the central clearing of the island. There is usually a lot of woodpecker activity right here. I haven't seen juvenile birds in the past, but have seen multiple birds at once and so think it likely that the birds breed here.
3. Spotted Eagle Recreation Area. Not far from Pumping Plant Park, I haven't seen many Red-headed Woodpeckers here, but I did see a juvenile two years ago.
4. Tongue River Winery I saw an adult and a juvenile from the parking lot last year. However, there is not any public land around here, so it might be hard to find the nest without permission of local landowners.
Sneed B. Collard III
3119 Cummins Way
Missoula, MT 59802