Hairy woodpecker

Hairy woodpecker identification – color, markings, features

Hairy woodpecker

  • Black and white streaked face
  • white belly and underparts
  • white patch on center of back
  • Male has small red patch on back of head (nape)
  • Female has no red
  • similar to Downy, but Hairy is much larger with longer bill

photo credit: zenbikescience via photopin cc

Hairy woodpecker size

  • Medium / large sized woodpecker
  • about 9 inches
  • bill is about 1.25 inches
  • wingspan about 17 inches
  • weight about 2.75-3.25 ounces

Hairy woodpecker range

  • year round in entire United States (except arid regions of Texas, Arizona, southern California)
  • south into parts of Mexico and Central America

Hairy woodpecker population statistics

  • according to various bird counts conducted through out its’ range, the population of hairy woodpeckers is steadily increasing over its’ entire range

What do Hairy woodpeckers eat

Hairy woodpeckers are known to frequent suburban backyards and will readily feed on a woodpecker feeder containing some type of suet mixture, seeds, or nuts.  Learn more by reading hairy woodpecker diet

Hairy woodpecker habitat

Hairy woodpeckers live in mature forests through out their range. However, they also can be found in forested woodlots with low growth vegetation, open woodlands, parks, tree farms, fruit tree orchards, and suburban areas all across America and Canada. They are probably most commonly found in deciduous woods, coniferous forests, along the wooded edges of rivers, lakes, ponds, creeks and streams, and in recently burned stands of timber. Hairy woodpeckers will also live in oak and pine stands, birch forests, and southern cypress swamps.

Hairy woodpecker nest – nesting, breeding, and mating

Hairy woodpeckers typically nest in living trees: 1. where there is a dead or dying stump or branch, or 2. where a section of the tree’s core or heartwood has been compromised or rotted. Hairy’s instinctively like to have their entrance hole to the nest on the underside of a branch or non vertical part of the tree to protect their nest from other cavity dwellers. Both male and female hairy woodpeckers participate in excavation of the nest cavity. The entrance hole to the nest is normally one and a half inches to two inches in diameter, the depth about ten to twelve inches, with the bottom of the cavity a little wider than the top to make room for their eggs and incubation. The bottom of the nest is lined with wood chips and shavings. Hairy’s mate and breed once a year, usually in mid to late spring. They typically lay between 4 and 6 solid white colored eggs, which measure about .75 inch by 1 inch. Egg incubation is about 12 days and the nesting period normally lasts about 28 days.

Hairy woodpecker call and sounds

Both male and female hairy woodpeckers have a ‘teek teek teek’ call they use for located each other, and a ‘hwicky-hwicky-hwicky’ used during courtship and breeding. Both sexes also make ‘drumming’ noises (rapid pecking usually on hollow cored branches and trees because the sound carries further) while claiming territory and during breeding season.

Other noted behavioral traits of Hairy woodpeckers

Hairy woodpeckers are very similar to the downy woodpecker in appearance, habitat preference, range, and the sounds they make. The differences include: 1. Hairy’s are bigger and have larger and thicker bills and are therefore more likely to peck and chisel deeper into trees, and into harder and denser bark in search of their food, 2. Hairy’s like to ‘scavenge’ the probing holes left in trees by yellow bellied sapsuckers to drink tree sap, 3. Hairy’s sometimes can be seen following and eating up the scraps left by pileated woodpeckers.

Similar species:

Pileated woodpecker