Downy Woodpecker

Order: Piciformes
Family: Picidae
Genus: Picoides
Species: pubescens

Downy Woodpeckers, F.C.Hennessey, Birds of Eastern Canada, P.A.Taverner, 1922

  F.C. Hennessey

Gr. pikos woodpecker
La. picus woodpecker
Gr. Circe, mythological daughter
     of Helios, changed Picus, son
     of Saturn, into a woodpecker
La. forma form, shape, kind
La. -oides resembling
La. pubescens pubescent coming
     to puberty, hairy (for their
     stiff bristles around the
Smallest and tamest of the woodpeckers. Six or seven inches long. Black crown, black and white streaks leading back from the beak across the side of the head and red patch in the back of the male's head.  Black and white back. Black wings with white bars. White chin, throat and underside.

      USGS Downy Woodpecker Map

Widespread and abundant.  Year around resident throughout the lower 50 states except the arid south west, from lower and coastal Alaska, throughout most of Canada below 60 degrees north latitude, lower Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland.

Downy Woodpeckers excavate their own cavities usually in partially decayed trees in deciduous and mixed forests, apple orchards, groves, farms, country homes and towns. Anywhere there are trees, even suburbs and cities.
Lays three to five, more or less, white eggs. Young hatch after less than two weeks incubation and young leave the nest in about another three weeks.

Forages for insects, berries and seeds on the branches of low trees, hedges, and brush heaps. Feeds on suet in cold weather. 

Short drum rolls.

Downy Woodpecker, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, Fifty Common Birds of Farm and Orchard, U.S.Department of Agriculture, 1913

Louis Agassiz Fuertes

Occasionally emits a call resembling the metallic ring of a hammer contacting a chisel.

They are social birds, often seen in the company of other species including chickadees, nuthatches, titmice and wrens.

The Downy Woodpecker nest box (same as for Tufted Titmouse, Plain Titmouse, Mountain, Carolina, & Black-capped Chickadees, Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches) has a 4" by 4" floor, 9" inside ceiling, 1 1/4" diameter entrance hole located 7" above the floor and ventilation openings. Assemble with corrosion resistant screws and fit to pre-drilled countersunk pilot holes. Secure hinged roof with shutter hooks for easy access and safety when maintaining at heights.
Nestbox Plans for Chickadees, Nuthatches, Titmice and Downy Woodpeckers
Downy Woodpecker
Nest Box Plans

Mount nest box on a tree trunk about eye level or just out of reach, higher only if necessary. Because they commonly nest in natural or abandon cavities, or excavate their own cavities, place few chips on the nest box floor.


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