Very similar in plumage to Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker is larger overall with a much longer bill (at least half the total length of the head). Like the Downy, Hairy Woodpecker shows much variation across its range. Upperparts are mostly black, with a trough of white down the middle of the back, white spots on the wings, and white outer tail feathers. Western birds show significantly less spotting on the wings and reduced white on the back. The head shows bold white stripes above and below the eye, expanding over the side of the neck. Underparts are mostly unmarked white, dingy on Pacific Coast birds. Males have a small red patch on the back of the crown. On eastern birds, this red patch is bisected by a vertical black line. Juveniles show a reddish patch at the front of the crown.
Length: 22 (cm) Wingspan: 38 (cm)
A harsh PIK. Drumming is very rapid.
Mature forests, riparian woodland, residential areas with large trees.
Often congregates in burned areas, feeding low to the ground or on downed trees.
Forages on tree trunks and large branches for insects. Also eats fruit and seeds.
When leading trips with newer birders, I roll out this menomonic when called for: Hairy Woodpeckers PEEK around the sides of trees, and Downies PICK at small limbs. This is intended to suggest both the difference in their general habits and the different vowel sounds (long-E; short-I) of their respective calls. People like it.
Citation: Personal Experience. I observe this regularly, highly confident.
I'm not very familiar with Hairy Woodpeckers; I generally see Downies at my suet feeder, but I now think I have a family of Hairies as well. A female was feeding her young in a tree near our suet feeder. The Hairy, besides being a few inches larger, lacks the tufts at the upper base of their bill, and they also lack the black bands on the underside of their tail feathers - features which the Downies have. I don't know if that's consistent or reliable; its just what I've observed recently. I'm in Eugene, OR.
Citation: Personal Experience. I recently observed this, confidence uncertain at this time.
Expanded Life History
|Feed Ecology And Diet||Contribute Content|
|Nesting Habits||Contribute Content|
|Migration Status||Contribute Content|
|Conservation Status||Contribute Content|
|Local Sites to Spot||Contribute Content|
|Abundance Status||Contribute Content|
|Adult Male Description||Contribute Content|
|Adult Female Description||Contribute Content|
|ITIS Taxonomic Number||Contribute Content|
|Reproductive Characteristics||Contribute Content|
|Relationship to Humans||Contribute Content|
|ID Tips - Size & Shape||Contribute Content|
|ID Tips - Color & Pattern||Contribute Content|
|ID Tips - Habitat||Contribute Content|
|ID Tips - Behavior||Contribute Content|
|ID Tips - Wingspan||Contribute Content|
|ID Tips - Weight||Contribute Content|
|Cool Facts||Contribute Content|
|Local Knowledge||Contribute Content|
Post a Question
|06/28/16||Steven Mauvais, OR||#|
|06/25/16||Dave Irons, OR||#|
|01/19/14||Dave Irons, OR||2|
|03/10/86||Chelsea Bassanese, BC||#|
|07/15/13||Nathan Cutler, ON||1|
|06/01/13||Carol Cwiklinski, VA||#|
|06/29/13||Dave Irons, OR||#|
|Activity||Date & Time|
|Julia Siporin added a note to Hairy Woodpecker Notes||6/04/2013 at 1:08PM|
|Dan Mitchell added Hairy Woodpecker to their Sunriver, Deschutes County, Oregon smart list||1/05/2013 at 8:18PM|
|Maya Mudd added Hairy Woodpecker to their Sandy River Delta smart list||3/27/2012 at 11:43PM|
|David Fix added a note to Hairy Woodpecker Notes||7/03/2011 at 3:32PM|