Woodpeckers are black and white with a white belly. The
male has a red spot on the back of his head whereas the
female does not. This woodpecker has a mostly black tail
with white outer tail feathers. Hairy Woodpeckers do not
have spots on these white tail feathers, unlike the Downy
Woodpecker. The Hairy has a large, strong bill used for
chiseling into wood.
Woodpeckers look very similar to the smaller Downy Woodpecker.
Hairys are 9 ¼” long, nearly the size of a skinny
robin, whereas Downys are only about 6 ¾” long, just
a little bigger than a House Sparrow. Size can be difficult
to judge unless they're near each other, so compare the
size of the bill relative to the bird's head. The Downy
Woodpecker has a smaller bill that is shorter than the depth
of its head. Hairy Woodpeckers have a longer and more substantial
bill that is very close in length to the depth of its head.
With practice it becomes easier to tell the two species
Woodpeckers can be found in almost any type of wooded habitat
though it is most commonly seen in mature woods. They are
found nearly all throughout North America, including Canada
and Alaska. They will rarely use the narrow branches
that the Downy browses on, preferring to keep to the tree
trunk and major limbs. They'll often follow Pileateds, using
their holes to rummage for additional insects. As with all
woodpeckers, the Hairy uses its tail feathers as a prop,
almost like a kangaroo uses its tail, to balance on a tree
trunk. Compare this to nuthatches that use only their feet.
Hairy Woodpeckers nest in tree cavities.
diet of the Hairy Woodpecker consists mostly of insects,
even in the wintertime. The woodpecker's common method of
searching within tree bark for bugs is well known though
they will also eat berries and nuts if available. A suet
feeder or peanut feeder is a great way to entice woodpeckers
to a backyard feeding station and they will occasionally
come to a feeder stocked with a mix containing sunflower
chips or peanuts. A simple way to provide a treat for Downys,
Hairys, nuthatches and Chickadees is to spread peanut butter
right onto the bark or in a crevice of a tree. A log
suet feeder also works great for Hairys and
other woodpeckers, and chickadees and nuthatches as well.
to the Hairy Woodpecker
audio file kindly donated by John