The Downy Woodpecker, the continent’s smallest and most common woodpecker, is a familiar backyard visitor year-round in most parts of America and southern Canada.
Description: The Downy Woodpecker is boldly patterned with black and white. Its wings are black with white bars and its underparts and throat are completely white. Its has a black cap and a large black mask that extends from the nape through the bill. Males have a red patch of feathers on the nape, which is lacking in females. The Downy Woodpecker has a shorter bill that other woodpeckers. It measures no more than six inches in length, though it may be larger in northern parts of its range. The very similar Hairy Woodpecker is several inches larger and has a longer bill.
Diet: Insects, seeds. Downy Woodpeckers are easily attracted to feeders or to suet blocks.
Habitat: Woodlands, open woodlands, parks, gardens, suburban and urban areas. They can even be found searching for food in corn fields.
Range: Throughout Canada and the United States except in the far north and in the desert. It is much more common in eastern parts of its range.
Status: The Downy Woodpecker is very common and is easy to observe as it creeps along the trunks and branches. It is probably the most common woodpecker in Canada and the United States. Its loud “rattle” call is heard througout the year and is one of the most recognizable bird calls of the eastern forest.
Watch a Downy Woodpecker land on this man’s hand