Downy Woodpecker01

Male Downy.

Downy Woodpecker02

Female Downy.


Male Hairy.

Hairy Woodpecker (female)

Female Hairy.

These two birds are both black and white while the males have a small red nape patch while females don't have this.[1] They both have a white back which helps to ID them from other woodpeckers;[2] while other woodpeckers have white rumps or white bars on the back, Hairy and Downy are the only woodpeckers in North America with a white back.[3]

While they are both found in the United States and Canada, Hairy is found all the way to Panama.[3]

Downy Woodpecker


A small, short-billed woodpecker,[1] like a small version of the Hairy;[3] with proportionately large head and short broad neck.[1] Bill less than ½ depth of head.[1][4] Outer tail feathers generally have faint bars or spots.[2]


The call is softer and higher-pitched[2] and not as wild sounding than Hairy's;[5] has a flat pick!, not as sharp as the Hairy's peek!.[3]

Hairy Woodpecker


Medium-sized woodpecker with a long bill that is usually more than ½ depth of head;[1][4] its bill is exaggerated compared with the Downy's little bill.[3] If size is difficult to judge, the Hairy's bill is larger and more robust.[4] They have a thinner body, more oblong head, defined neck, longer bill and proportionately smaller nasal tufts than the Downy.[1] The outer tail feathers are generally white,[2] they generally lack the black spots along the tail[6] and have a longer and more distinct black mark on the shoulder.[7] Black bars can be found on Hairys found in the Pacific race and birds found in Newfoundland.[8]


The peek call is much louder than the Downy's;[5] a kingfisher-like rattle, run together more than the call of the Downy; note the sharp peek!.[3] Has a larger, more oval-shaped cavity than the Downy.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Stokes, Donald W. and Stokes, Lilian Q. (2010). Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America. Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 9770316010504 Check |isbn= value: invalid prefix (help). 
  2. ^ a b c d Dunn, Jon L. and Alderfer, Jonathan (2011). National Geographic Guide to the Birds of North America. National Geographic Society. ISBN 1426200722. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Peterson, Roger Tory (1980). A Field Guide to the Birds East of the Rockies. Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 039526619X. 
  4. ^ a b c Beedy, Edward C.; Pandolfino, Edward R. and Hansen, Keith (illu.) (2013). Birds of the Sierra Nevada. University of California Press. ISBN 0520274946. 
  5. ^ a b Terres, John K. (1980). The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. ISBN 0394466519. 
  6. ^ a b Tekiela, Stan (2002). Birds of Oklahoma Field Guide. Adventure Publicatins, Inc. ISBN 1885061331. 
  7. ^ "Downy Woodpecker". All About Birds. Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved 1 January 2016. 
  8. ^ "Downy Woodpecker and Hairy Woodpecker". Project FeederWatch. Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved 1 Jan 2016. Black bars can be found on the outer tail feathers on birds of the Pacific race and in Newfoundland. 
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