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Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens


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Downy Woodpecker, male
credit: Wolfgang Wander/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Picidae, Woodpeckers view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE Has mainly black upperparts, but with white spots and barring on wings, white stripe on back, and barred white outer tail feathers. Head has black cap, ear coverts, mustache, and lower nape, with red patch on upper nape. Underparts and rest of head are otherwise white. ADULT FEMALE Similar, but nape is entirely black. JUVENILE Similar to adult female but with dull red patch on crown.

Dimensions Length: 6" (15 cm)

Habitat Common and widespread resident of deciduous woodland, parks, and gardens, and to lesser extent of coniferous forest.

Observation Tips Unobtrusive and rather easy to overlook. Often visits feeders, when it is easy to observe.

Range Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Northwest, Western Canada, New England, California, Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, Texas, Plains, Eastern Canada, Florida, Southeast, Alaska

Voice Utters an agitated, chattering ki-ki-ki-ki and a sharp pic. Drumming is rapid, but slower than that of Hairy.

Discussion North America's smallest woodpecker. Often feeds on slender branches, males more so than females. Excavates tree holes for nesting. Sexes are separable.