PHOTO OF THE WEEK: Downy and Hairy, the Woodpecker Twins…Almost

Which picture shows a Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus), and which shows a Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)? The plumage of these two woodpecker species is nearly identical. The clues below can help you identify the birds in the pictures above, and when they visit your suet feeder this winter!

  1. Size can be hard to judge, so look at the length of the beak compared to the head. A Downy’s beak is daintier and only about 1/3 as long as the distance from the base of the beak to the back of the head.  A Hairy’s beak is heavier and about as long as the distance from the base of its beak to the back of its head.
  2. The Downy’s white outer tail feathers usually have black spots when seen from below, whereas the the Hairy’s are solid white. More comparisons at this link.

Hover your mouse over the pictures above to see if your guess was right!

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