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Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 5:49 EDT

Downy Woodpecker

The Downy Woodpecker, Picoides pubescens, is the smallest woodpecker in North America. They are about 6.5 inches long. Adults are mainly black on the upper side and wings, with a white back, throat and belly and white spotting on the wings. There is a white bar above and below the eye. They have a black tail with white outer feathers barred with black. Adult males have a red patch on the back of the head. It is similar in appearance to the much larger Hairy Woodpecker.

Their breeding habitat is forested areas, mainly deciduous, across most of North America to Central America. They are the most common woodpecker in North America. They nest in a tree cavity, excavated by the nesting pair in a dead tree or limb. Northern birds may migrate further south. Birds in mountainous areas may move to lower elevations.

These birds forage on trees, picking the bark surface in summer and digging deeper in winter. They mainly eat insects, but may also eat seeds and berries.

Downy Woodpecker