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Tag Archive | "National birdfeeding month"

National birdfeeding month


Downy and Hairy woodpeckers

Do you know the difference between Downy and Hairy woodpeckers?

According to the Great Backyard Bird Count website, Downy and Hairy woodpeckers are widely distributed across North America. Both commonly visit feeder areas where they feed on suet and sometimes seeds. These are the only woodpeckers with a vertical white stripe on the back. Hairy Woodpeckers are roughly three inches taller and their bills are about as long as their heads are wide. The bills of the Downy are only about one-third the width of their heads.

Downy woodpecker

Downy woodpecker

Downy woodpecker

  • A small (approximately 6.5″ long) black-and-white woodpecker with a short, dainty beak. The beak is about one-third the distance from the base of the bill to the back of the head.
  • The wings are black with white wing coverts. White is greatly reduced in birds of the Rockies and the Northwest.
  • Some individiuals also show a “comma-shaped” black mark that extends from the shoulder onto the breast, though it is often not as obvious as it is on the Hairy.
  • The white outer tail feathers on the Downy Woodpecker are usually barred in black, giving a spotted effect.
  • Note the distinct tuft of nasal bristles at the base of the beak.
  • The Pacific race is dirtier with a few black spots on the upper sides of breast.
  • Only males have a red patch on the back of the head. Juveniles may have tuft of red on forehead.
  • Over 50 percent of FeederWatch sites host these at their feeders all winter long.
Hairy woodpecker

Hairy woodpecker

Hairy woodpecker

  • A black-and-white woodpecker about the size of a robin (avg. 9-13″ long), with a long, chisel-like beak. The beak is about as long as the distance from the base of the bill to the back of the head.
  • The wings are black with white wing coverts.
  • Note the well-developed “comma-shaped” black mark extending
    from the shoulder onto the breast. This feature is often less obvious
    in Downy’s and is sometimes a useful distinguishing mark.
  • In most of the Eastern U.S., Hairys have completely white outer tail feathers. Black bars can be found on the outer tail feathers on birds of the Pacific race and in Newfoundland.
  • Nasal bristles are small and inconspicuous.
  • The Pacific race looks darker, dingier and has more streaks on the flanks than the whiter, cleaner Eastern race.
  • Only males have a red patch on the back of the head. Juveniles may have tuft of red on forehead.
  • More likely than Downy to be observed at rural sites (often in pairs).

From http://gbbc.birdcount.org/learn_about_birds/downy-and-hairy-woodpeckers/. Visit that website to hear their individual calls.

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