Downy Woodpecker Vs Hairy Woodpecker

The two most common woodpeckers in North America are the downy woodpecker and the hairy woodpecker. These birds are very similar in appearance, but there are some key differences between them. The downy woodpecker is smaller than the hairy woodpecker and has a shorter beak.

The plumage on the back of the downy woodpecker is also more finely textured than that of the hairy woodpecker. In terms of habitat, both species can be found in forests and woodland areas across North America.

However, the hairy woodpecker is more likely to inhabit mature forests, while the downy woodpecker is often found in younger forest habitats.

There are two types of woodpeckers that are common in North America-the downy woodpecker and the hairy woodpecker. Although they look similar, there are some key differences between these two birds. The downy woodpecker is smaller than the hairy woodpecker and has a shorter bill.

The back of its head is also white, while the back of a hairy woodpecker’s head is black. Downy woodpeckers also have less red on their heads than hairy woodpeckers. Hairy woodpeckers are better at drilling into hardwood trees than downy woodpeckers.

They also eat more insects than downy woodpeckers do. However, downy woodpeckers can often be found in urban areas, while hairy woodpeckers are more likely to be found in forests. So, which type of woodpecker is better?

It really depends on what you’re looking for! If you want to see a beautiful bird up close, then the downy woodpecker is a great choice. But if you’re interested in seeing a bird that can really drill into a tree, then go for the hairy Woodstock!

What is the Difference between a Hairy Woodpecker And a Downy Woodpecker?

There are two types of woodpeckers that are commonly found in North America – the hairy woodpecker and the downy woodpecker. Both of these birds are part of the Picidae family, which includes all species of woodpeckers, sapsuckers, and flickers.

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Although these two bird species look very similar, there are several key differences between them.

One of the most obvious differences is size – the hairy woodpecker is approximate twice the size of the downy woodpecker. The hairy woodpecker also has a longer beak and longer legs than the downy woodpecker. Another difference between these two bird species is their plumage.

The back and wings of a hairy woodpecker are black with white stripes, whereas the back and wings of a downy woodpecker are mostly white with small black spots. Perhaps the most important difference between these two types of woodpeckers is their habitat preferences.

Hairy woodpeckers typically inhabit forests with large trees, while downy woodpeckers are more likely to be found in suburban areas with smaller trees or even backyard bird feeders.

This preference for different habitats likely contributes to why these two bird species rarely come into contact with each other- they simply don’t share the same space!

Are Downy And Hairy Woodpeckers Related?

Yes, downy and hairy woodpeckers are related. They are both members of the family Picidae, which includes all woodpeckers. The two species are very similar in appearance, behavior, and habitat preferences.

Both downy and hairy woodpeckers are found in North America east of the Rocky Mountains. These birds are small to medium-sized with stout bodies and long tails.

Their wings are short and rounded, and they have sharp claws on their toes that help them grip tree trunks as they climb.

Downy woodpeckers have black-and-white plumage with a white belly, while hairy woodpeckers have all-black plumage with a white back. Both species eat insects that they find by pecking at tree bark or digging into dead trees with their beaks.

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Why is the Hairy Woodpecker Called Hairy?

If you take a close look at a Hairy Woodpecker, you’ll notice that the bird has black and white feathers on its back and wings. But there’s one more thing – long, black feathers sticking out of its back! These feathers are called “hairs,” and they give the woodpecker its name.

But why does this bird have hairs? Scientists aren’t 100% sure, but they have a few ideas. One possibility is that the hairs help the woodpecker stay warm in cold weather.

Another idea is that the hairs make it easier for the bird to grip onto tree bark as it climbs up and down trees. Whatever the reason, it’s clear that hairy woodpeckers are unique birds, and we’re lucky to have them around!

Do All Downy Woodpeckers Have a Red Spot?

No, not all downy woodpeckers have a red spot. The red-bellied woodpecker is the most common species of woodpecker in North America, but it does not have a red spot.

The red-headed woodpecker is another common North American species, and it does have a small red patch on the back of its head.

ID Tips: Hairy Woodpecker vs. Downy Woodpecker

Female Hairy Woodpecker Vs Downy

There are two species of North American woodpeckers that look very similar: the hairy woodpecker and the downy woodpecker. Both have black and white plumage, but the hairy has more extensive white markings on its wings and back.

The downy is smaller than the hairy, measuring about 6 inches long to the latter’s 9 inches.

The males of both species have a red patch on their head, but in the case of the downy, it’s at the nape of the neck while in the hairy it covers the entire crown. The two birds also differ in their habitat preferences.

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The hairy woodpecker is a bird of forests and woodland edges while the downy is found in more open habitats such as parks and gardens.

When it comes to feeding, both will eat insects (especially ants), but whereas hairy woodpeckers will also eat fruits, nuts, and seeds, Downys prefer spiders and other small invertebrates.

So how can you tell these two birds apart? If you see one pecking at a tree trunk or branch, look for size differences: if it’s larger with more prominent white markings on its back, it’s probably a hairy woodpecker; if it’s smaller with less distinct markings, it’s likely to be downy. Another clue lies in their calls: Downys give a short “pik” sound, while hairies have a louder “pik-a-rik.”

And finally, take note of where you’re seeing them: if it’s in an urban area or your garden, chances are good that it’s downy. if you’re spotting one deep in woods or forests, then it’s almost certainly a hairy woodpecker.


The two species of woodpeckers that are most often confused with one another are the Downy Woodpecker and the Hairy Woodpecker. Although they look similar, there are some key differences between these birds.

The Downy Woodpecker is smaller than the Hairy Woodpecker and has a shorter beak.

The back of its head is also white, while the back of a Hairy Woodpecker’s head is black. When it comes to their habitat, Downy Woodpeckers can be found in both urban and rural areas, while Hairy Woodpeckers are more likely to live in forests.

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