The most common
North American woodpecker, the downy woodpecker breeds throughout
most of North America, except for the extreme Southwest. It is
a frequent visitor to feeders, often traveling in mixed flocks
of other small birds such as chickadees, nuthatches, and kinglets.
winter, male and female downy woodpeckers use varying strategies
for foraging. Males venture to slender branches in treetops, while
females stick to thicker branches at the midlevel and lower sections
of trees. Males also are more aggressive, chasing away any bird
that attempts to feed near the branch they occupy.
about 6-inches long, downy woodpeckers have black-and-white striped
heads, black upperparts with a white patch centered on the back,
white wing spots, and white underparts. Males sport a red patch
on their nape; the females' nape patch is white. They have a very
short, chisel shaped beak. Six recognized subspecies of downy
woodpeckers exist. For example, northern subspecies can be distinguished
because they tend to be a little larger and paler than their counterparts
in the south.
Text © 2000 Terry White, Drawing ©
2000 Bill Harrah