Downy Woodpecker
Picoides pubescens
Family Picidae

The Downy Woodpecker is America’s smallest and most common woodpecker. Often confused with the Hairy Woodpecker, it can be distinguished by its smaller bill size and spotted outer tail feathers.

Identifying Traits (male):

  • Black and white plumage
  • White back
  • Red nape patch
  • Small, pointed bill
  • White outer tail feathers
  • Size: 14-17 cm (6-7")
  • Weight: 21-28 g (0.74-0.99 oz)


Identifying Traits (female):

  • Like male, but with a white nape patch

Similiar Species: The Hairy Woodpecker is noticeably larger, has a longer bill, and lacks spotted outer tail feathers.

Voice: Call is a short, sharp pik.

Range: The Downy Woodpecker can be found throughout the continental United States

Habitat: The Downy is found near or in woods, river groves, orchards, and shade trees, and it is a common visitor of bird feeders

Interesting Facts: Being the smallest woodpecker in its range, the Downy takes advantage of food sources other woodpeckers cannot, such as galls found on leaves. It extracts the gall fly larvae from goldenrod galls, using the exit tube formed by the larvae.

Adult male
  Adult male, notice spotted outer tail feathers    


Home | Glossary | Search | Help | About | References