Downy Woodpecker – Picoides pubescens

Tags: North America, Picidae, bird

Downy Woodpecker

A downy woodpecker is pecking on a tree branch, digging for insects. Photo by David Brezinski, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
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What does the downy woodpecker look like?

At 6.75 inches in length, downy woodpeckers are the smallest woodpecker in North America. Downy woodpeckers are mainly black on the head and wings and tail. They have a white back, throat, and belly, and white spots on their wings. There are white bars above and below their eyes. Adult males have a red patch on the back of the head. They have long sticky barbed tongues to help catch insects.

What do downy woodpeckers eat?

Downy woodpeckers eat insects that they find in dead, rotting wood. They also eat berries and seeds.

Where do downy woodpeckers live?

Downy woodpeckers are found throughout North America, from southeastern Alaska east to Newfoundland, extending south to southern California and Florida. They are common across the continent, except in the drier regions of the southwest and the cold far north. Downy woodpeckers might be spotted in woodlands, suburbs, parks and orchards.

Downy woodpeckers make nests in the trunks or limbs of dead trees. The small size of this woodpecker means that it is easy for them to live anywhere. They just hollow out a small cavity that might be as small as 10 centimeters.

Additional Images:

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Downy woodpecker range map, by Ken Thomas.
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A closeup. Photo by Donna Dewhurst, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Image Source

Additional Links:


Vanner, Michael. The Complete Encyclopedia of North American Birds. Bath, UK: Parragon Publishing, 2005.









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