|Species: Hairy Woodpecker
Woodpecker is an insectivorous woodpecker that will also eat fruits
and seeds. Insects make up 80% of its diet. They breed throughout
North America from April to mid-August. In more southern locations
such as Costa Rica they will start breeding as early as February.
Pair formations start 2-3 months before the breeding season. They
nest in live trees with some decayed heartwood. The male is mostly
responsible for nest site selection and excavation. They do compete
with European Starlings for nest holes.
have an altitudinal migration. They will stay year around in an area
but will leave the higher mountain elevations during autumn and
winter for lower altitudes right down to sea level. The may also
partially withdrawal from northern areas with cold temperatures and
high amounts of snow.
medium-sized woodpecker with a long, straight, wood-drilling bill.
Like most woodpeckers they have stiff, long tail feathers which they
use as props as they hitch their way up tree trunks. The bill is
nearly the same length as the head versus the smaller Downy
Woodpecker where the bill is about half as long as its head.
Forehead and crown black. Nape red with a white supercilium and
moustachial stripe. Large thick bill. White patch on back with white
spots / barred on wing feathers. Tail black with the two outermost
feathers all white. Some forms will have slight spotting on the
outer tail feathers.
Shorter billed and smaller than the male. Females do not have any
red on the nape. The nape is black or mixed black and white.
Duller than adults with the black areas being duller and the
underparts darker. Will also have streaking/ barring on the outer
tail feathers. Both sexes have red / orange on crown, more extensive
on males. Juveniles will also have a more pronounced eye ring.
Downy Woodpecker is smaller in size with a smaller bill. Downy
Woodpeckers have black spots on outermost tail feathers. The two
woodpeckers can also be distinguished by sound.
Most observed in live trees with dead branches or conifer trees
extracting seeds from cones. They will peck and hammer removing the
bark or drilling holes into the trunk of a tree for beetle larvae,
moths, sawfly and other insects. Both sexes drum in short rolls,
which slow down at the end. Jumps from tree to tree at higher
elevations foraging for insects and seeds. Rarely seen foraging on
or near the ground.
Occupies a wide range of forest types and woodlands. They do prefer
semi-open mixed woodlands or forest edges in higher elevations for
breeding. Forages in mature forests, open meadows on forest edges,
marsh areas, ponds, logged areas and old burns. They can consume as
many as 20,000 mountain pine beetle larvae per hectare in a single
season. When the mountain pine beetle increases in an area, the
number of Hairy Woodpeckers also increases in the same area.
Although they are much more shy than the Downy Woodpecker, they can
often been seen in gardens at suet feeders during winter months.
Woodpecker is widespread across North America and is found from sea
level to high mountains. Hairy and Downy woodpeckers occur together
throughout most of their ranges and are best told apart by comparing
body features, particularly the proportions of the birds head to
beak which is about one to one. Habitat preference is also useful
for separating the species with Hairy Woodpeckers tending to spend
more time on the trunks of trees and Downy Woodpeckers using the
The longevity record for Hairy Woodpecker is 15 years 11 months.
Least Concern -
Uncommon but widespread throughout North America and Western Mexico.
The Queen Charlotte subspecies picoides is blue listed for loss of
habitat. During and after breeding they will disperse to higher
elevations up to 1800 meters. More common during winter months where
they will visit valley bottoms and can be seen at feeders. Hairy
Woodpeckers are adaptable and will breed in old burns and pine
beetle infested areas.
The Hairy Woodpecker is a year round resident of woodlots
surrounding Colony Farm. Capture rates (2010-2012;
standardized as birds captured per 100 net hours) peak after
the breeding season when juveniles and adults disperse from
the wooded perimeter to forage in the more open old-field