My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Downy Woodpecker, Picoides pubescens

Downy Woodpecker, Picoides pubescens,  are the smallest of North America’s woodpeckers.

The Downy Woodpecker is mainly black on the upper parts and wings, with a white back, throat and belly and white spotting on the wings. There is a white bar above the eye and one below. They have a black tail with white outer feathers barred with black. Adult males have a red patch on the back of the head whereas juvenile birds display a red cap.

The Downy Woodpecker is virtually identical in plumage pattern to the much larger Hairy Woodpecker, but it can be distinguished from the Hairy by the presence of black spots on its white tail feathers and the length of its bill. The Downy Woodpecker’s bill is shorter than its head, whereas the Hairy Woodpecker’s bill is approximately equal to head length.

The Downy Woodpecker gives a number of vocalizations, including a short pik call. Like other woodpeckers, it also produces a drumming sound with its beak as it pecks into trees. Compared to other North American species its drums are slow.

Their breeding habitat is forested areas, mainly deciduous, across most of North America to Central America. They nest in a tree cavity excavated by the nesting pair in a dead tree or limb.

These birds are mostly permanent residents. Northern birds may migrate further south; birds in mountainous areas may move to lower elevations. Downy Woodpeckers roost in tree cavities in the winter.

Downy Woodpeckers forage on trees, picking the bark surface in summer and digging deeper in winter. They mainly eat insects, also seeds and berries. In winter, especially, Downy Woodpeckers can often be found in suburban backyards with trees and will feed on suet at bird feeders.

On to the photos,

Male downy woodpecker

Male downy woodpecker

Male downy woodpecker

Male downy woodpecker

Juvenile male downy woodpecker

Juvenile male downy woodpecker

Juvenile male downy woodpecker

Juvenile male downy woodpecker

Juvenile male downy woodpecker

Juvenile male downy woodpecker

Juvenile male downy woodpecker

Juvenile male downy woodpecker

Juvenile male downy woodpecker hiding from a robin in flight

Juvenile male downy woodpecker hiding from a robin in flight

Juvenile male downy woodpecker

Juvenile male downy woodpecker

Female downy woodpecker

Female downy woodpecker

Male downy woodpecker

Male downy woodpecker

Male downy woodpecker

Male downy woodpecker

Male downy woodpecker

Male downy woodpecker

Male downy woodpecker

Male downy woodpecker

Male downy woodpecker

Male downy woodpecker

Male downy woodpecker

Male downy woodpecker

Male downy woodpecker

Male downy woodpecker

Female downy woodpecker

Female downy woodpecker

Female downy woodpecker

Female downy woodpecker

Female downy woodpecker

Female downy woodpecker

Female downy woodpecker

Female downy woodpecker

Female downy woodpecker

Female downy woodpecker

 

This is number 27 in my photo life list, only 323 to go!

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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10 responses

  1. Downies are such a delight! In the Anishinaabeg traditions they were considered sentinels/messengers, their “peek-peek” call meant “Someone’s coming!”

    February 12, 2013 at 9:46 am

    • Thanks for the comment, and for adding that information!

      February 12, 2013 at 10:31 am

  2. You’re getting some wonderful bird shots. I don’t get to see these guys often. Never since I moved from our home in the woods. Do you go hiking often or are most of these shot near your home?

    February 12, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    • Well, this all started as a way for me to get some exercise. I started doing a two mile walk everyday around the apartment complex where I used to live. Then, I started carrying my camera to photograph the flowers that were incorporated into the landscaping there. Then, I noticed the large number of birds, both residents and migrants, and one thing led to another. On weekends, I try to go for at least a 6 mile hike both Saturday and Sunday, if I’m not kayaking that weekend. So the short answer would have been, I spend a lot of time outdoors! This blog was originally going to be about places to hike and kayak in Michigan, but the focus has changed somewhat over time.

      February 12, 2013 at 1:28 pm

      • I like the newer focus since getting to Michigan might be a bit of a stretch for me…. 😉

        February 12, 2013 at 1:30 pm

  3. The downy is my favorite bird. You have such wonderful captures here. 🙂

    February 12, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    • Thanks. I know that in my archives that I have more photos of females than males, so this last summer, I specifically tried to photograph males, and ended up with this post being almost all males. I’ll have to add a few more females later.

      February 13, 2013 at 1:19 am

  4. They are very similar to our local woodpeckers. Lovely pictures.

    February 13, 2013 at 8:53 am

    • Thanks Tom.

      February 13, 2013 at 8:57 am

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