Tree-clinging Birds

Downy Woodpecker Downy Woodpecker
Picoides pubescens


6" (15 cm). A sparrow-sized, black and white woodpecker. Small red patch on nape in males. Similar to Hairy Woodpecker, but smaller and with short, stubby bill.


A quiet pik. Also a descending rattle.



Woodlands, parks, and gardens.


4 or 5 white eggs in a hole in a tree.


Resident from Alaska across Canada, south throughout United States except Southwest.

Downy Woodpecker Female


The Downy is a familiar bird in its range, especially in winter, when many move into the suburbs and feed on suet at bird feeders. It is often seen in the mixed flocks of chickadees, nuthatches, creepers, and kinglets that gather in the woods during migration and winter. As with other woodpeckers, the male is larger than the female and chisels deep into wood with its longer, stronger bill, whereas the female pries under the bark with her shorter bill. Thus a pair is able to share the food resources without competing with one another.