24 Interesting Facts About Downy Woodpeckers

There’s always something new to learn about Downy woodpeckers, whether you’re a novice or an expert in bird watching. To learn more about these common woodpeckers, check out these 24 interesting facts about the Downy.


In eastern North America, the downy woodpecker is often regarded as the most abundant woodpecker. They are a striking sight in many woodlands and suburban settings due to their bold black and white coloring and tiny stature. Backyard feeders are also a common place to find them, as they are frequent visitors.


1. The smallest woodpecker species in North America is the downy woodpecker. Their body is roughly 5.5 to 7.1 inches long. For a woodpecker, their bill is rather small.

2. The color of these woodpeckers is vivid black and white. They have black upper halves with white under halves. Their skull is black, with a large white stripe above and below their eye. Their black wings have white markings on the center of their back.

3. Males have a bright red patch on the back of their head, while females do not. The sexes have the same coloring.

4. Due to their nearly identical plumage, Downy and Hairy woodpeckers are frequently confused. The Downy is smaller, with black markings along its outer tail feathers and a shorter beak in proportion to its head size.

5. Their plumage varies somewhat depending on where they live. The overall color of those living in the west is darker. In comparison to the starker white of the eastern birds, downies along the Pacific coast have a dingier brownish-gray color.


6. The United States, including Alaska and Canada, are home to the downy woodpeckers.

7. The deserts of the United States are the only places where Downy’s are noticeably absent. The tundra of the far north, as well as southwest Canada.

8. The Downy, like other resident birds, does not migrate with the seasons. Forested regions (particularly deciduous trees), orchards, parks, and suburbs are all places where they may be found.


9. The most common species of woodpeckers to visit backyard bird feeders is the Downy. Some woodpecker species will never visit feeders, while others will only do so on rare occasions. But, unlike the Downy’s, who seem to prefer outdoor feeders, the Upy’s will come.

10. Suet, black oil sunflower, millet, and peanuts are just a few of the foods that will be eaten at your feeders.

11. These little woodpeckers have a reputation for enjoying nectar from time to time. From your hummingbird or oriole feeder, you may see one drinking! It’s not uncommon for woodpeckers to drill sap-wells into trees because they like tree sap.

12. Insects account for roughly 75% of their food in the wild. Ants and caterpillars, as well as a significant number of beetle larvae dwelling inside wood or tree bark, are included in this group. Plant-based foods, such as grain, acorns, and berries, account for about 25% of their diet.

13. They can find food where bigger woodpeckers cannot because of their tiny size. For example, they’ve been seen eating the insects that live on or inside wildflowers and weeds, balancing on their stems.


14. In dead or live trees, Downy builds a nest. They dig a hole in the wood, preferring fungus-infected deciduous trees that make the wood malleable.

15. The nest hole is carved out by both male and female Downy’s, and it takes between one to three weeks.

16. Since the eggs will be deposited on top of a layer of wood chips, nest cavities are between 6-12 inches deep and wider at the bottom.

17. The eggs of the downy woodpecker are white, with three to eight eggs per hole. The little will depart the nest in three weeks after being hatched two weeks following incubation.

18.Nester responsibilities, such as digging the nest entrance, incubating the eggs, and feeding the fledgling, are shared by both sexes. This is a genuine collaboration!

19.For a few weeks after their fledglings leave the nest, downy parents may continue to feed them. During this time of learning how to find food for themselves, getting food from mom and dad helps.


20. The Downy will raise up their feathers on their head, spread out their tail feathers, and wave their beaks from side to side in an attempt to scare another bird.

21. They may do the “butterfly flight” during courtship. They will chase each other through trough trees before nesting, then stretch their wings out and flap them gently up and down, looking a lot more like a butterfly than a bird as they flap.

22.The Downy’s are fairly active, leaping between trees, limbs, and even sturdier stems of grasses and flowers. They use their tail like a kickstand to help support themselves against surfaces. In comparison to other woodpecker species, they may be acrobatic and perform more horizontal and downward gymnastics on tree trunks.

23. To stake claim to land and attract prospective partners in the region, both sexes of trees are drummed on. The beak of the bird is rapidly banged on a hard surface, resulting in a loud sound. Creating a actual hole and excavating a nest is quite different from the slow pecking they utilize. The only reason to drum is to produce a sound that travels.

24.Males will search for food on little branches and weed stems throughout the winter, while females will stay on bigger branches and tree trunks. Females concentrate on the middle or lower section of the tree, while males concentrate on higher up.

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