Not sure if there is variability to this particular pattern detail within the Hairy population or not. PEEK! For the best chance of seeing one of these two species in your yard, you’ll need a good suet feeder. Since I first noticed this feature, I have paid attention to it when I see Downies and Hairies in new sites. Hairy woodpeckers also have a longer bill, about as long as their heads, while downy woodpeckers' bills are short in comparison, only about a third of the length of its head, the Audubon Society reports. The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America: Second Edition, The Sibley Guide to Birds - Second Edition, The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America: Second Edition, Another clue for identifying Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, Identifying Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers by drumming sounds, Distinguishing Eurasian and American Common Merganser. The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Eastern North America: Second Edition, The Sibley Guide to Birds - Second Edition, The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America: Second Edition, differences in the black-and-white pattern, A new clue for identifying Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, Identifying Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers by drumming sounds, Distinguishing male and female American Goldfinches, http://www.birds.cornell.edu/crows/woodhead.htm, New Product – A ten pack of greeting cards with art and text from my newest book, Scarlet Tanagers are bright red – but this one is yellow, A Cerulean-like song variant of Black-throated Blue Warbler, Exhibit of original art from "What it's like to be a bird" - Canton, MA, Virtual event: Master Class for 92Y - What It’s Like to Be A Bird. Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve, Hillsboro, Oregon, 12 October 2010: “The face seemed whiter than normal, as if the black ear patch was missing or reduced to a post-ocular stripe.”. Interestingly however, using NAB (#662), I found that this issue was first published by Kilham 1977 (Wilson Bulletin), who noted breeding females with black or mostly black foreheads. The hairy woodpecker is about 1/3 longer than the downy and weighs almost 3 times as much! Your email address will not be published. Again shorter than what? There is no mention of the banding on the tail feathers. Viewed from behind both of these differences are apparent. In a previous post I wrote about differences in the black-and-white pattern on the neck of Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, and in comments there Dan Lane reminded me of a difference in the pattern of red on the nape of males, that I’ve heard about over the years but never really investigated. Male Downy Woodpecker has a solid red patch across the back of the head, while male Hairy has the red patch broken by a vertical black line connecting the crown and nape. 2 - How They Can Climb Trees - How To Tell Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers Apart - Duration: 4:58. I must add, however, that there are a whole lot of male Hairy Woodpeckers out there with solid red nape spots, without a bisecting black line and with no intruding black at all. I assumed the difference was applicable to my local subspecies only and hadn’t thought more of it. Hairy and downy woodpeckers share most of the same habitats. As a result, the nape feathers on specimens are not “natural” in their appearance. I would think there are enough specimens to check this out. In my feeder birds here in Oregon, I have found the vertical black line to be consistent in Hairy woodpeckers. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. From Dan Lane: “Throughout the East (from New England to the Gulf of Mexico), this pattern seems to hold consistently. I while ago Tess told me there was a discussion I might be interested in on the identity of a woodpecker, some said Downey, some said Hairy. The head shape of Herring Gulls seems to change seasonally, Getting down with the Downy Woodpecker - wcn247.com, https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S44299744, New Product – A ten pack of greeting cards with art and text from my newest book, Scarlet Tanagers are bright red – but this one is yellow, A Cerulean-like song variant of Black-throated Blue Warbler, Exhibit of original art from "What it's like to be a bird" - Canton, MA, Virtual event: Master Class for 92Y - What It’s Like to Be A Bird. The black line could be underlying the fresh red feathers, only to surface with wear. The juvenile males (and some females) have the yellow or orange crown patch; I’ve not noted the stripe on the young birds, but it’s something I’ll look for later this summer. I’m curious to know if you have observed that male Downys always have a solid red nape, and male Hairys always broken? The small bill of the Downy Woodpecker creates a "cute" impression. A colleague subsequently took rear aspect photos of three male Hairy Woodpeckers at his own feeder, and all had a black stripe to some degree – as Kevin notes above for Downies, the differences are sufficient to permit identification of birds as individuals. Also, another feature that can be useful in separating the two in male plumage is the red on the nape: in Downy it’s whole across the nape, but in Hairy, it’s split down the middle by a black stripe (connecting the black crown and lower neck). Since this issue was brought to our attention, many of us will be checking it out. The Hairy Woodpecker silhouette is in black, and the Downy Woodpecker silhouette is in white. I can distinguish at least 5 female Downies coming to my feeders at the moment on that character alone. Thus, the Downey is the dinky bird with the dinky beak. I posted something about this topic at http://www.birds.cornell.edu/crows/woodhead.htm quite a while ago (wow! Young birds just out of the nest often have red on the center of the crown, mostly males (females have all-black crowns or just a few red feathers). On some birds the red can be somewhat limited so that it looks like the red is just on the back end of the white supercilium and the nape is mostly black. I’ll keep checking for variations. They are truly amazing and my friends have never seen any this big. The field identification of the Downy Woodpecker vs. the Hairy Woodpecker can be tricky at best. The Downey also has the shorter beek that the Hairy.
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