Bird ID - Hairy vs. Downy woodpeckers

Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers look exactly the same. The only way to really distinguish them is their size. Downy woodpeckers are significantly smaller than Hairy woodpeckers and they are also pretty common at suet feeders. Hairy woodpeckers are generally a little shier and I haven’t seen them at my suet (Zick dough) feeders. Recently that has changed and I was able to snap a couple of pics to illustrate the difference between the two species.

Below is the little Downy woodpecker. Take particular notice of the size of the body, beak and tail.

Next let’s look at the Hairy woodpecker. Now that you’ve seen the Downy, you’ll notice how much larger the Downy’s body, beak and tail is.
Below are both almost side to side.

Sadly these pictures don't do either woodpeckers justice. All I can say is that the size is really obvious if you see both at your feeders. Hairy woodpeckers are pretty incredible looking and I mixed up another batch of Zick dough to keep them around.


RuthieJ said...

that last picture is really neat! I've never had a downy and hairy share any of my suet feeders.

Christopher said...

Yeah - Hairy Woodpeckers don't seem to be as common a "feeder bird" as the Downies.
I've always felt that if you think you are seeing a Hairy Woodpecker than you probably aren't. The size is enough that you'll know if you're looking at one.

Lucky that you got them both at your feeder! I'll have to try mixing up some Zick dough soon.
Hope the Hairy WPs stick around for you!

Tracy said...

I have a question, Does anyone know why downies will feed each other off of a suite feeder. I have been watching this behavior for a few days now and I can not find any comments about it on the Web.

Kris Carpenter said...

What is zick dough?

Owlman said...

You have to try it Kris. Here's the oiginal post including a link to the new and improved recipe: