Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)
Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens
Sound (137 KB)
- Very small black and white woodpecker
- Very short bill
- Black wings with white spotting on coverts and flight feathers
- White back
- White underparts
- Mostly black head set off by broad white supercilium and lower border to auriculars
- Black nape
- Black rump
- Black tail with white outer tail feathers barred with black
Common and widespread in deciduous and mixed forests, small woodlots, suburbs, orchards, gardens, urban areas. In the west, often found in willow and poplar trees along streams. May hang like a chickadee from small branches or leaves. Comes to feeders. Downy Woodpeckers are more closely related to Ladder-backed Woodpeckers than to the similar looking Hairy Woodpeckers. Smallest woodpecker in North America.
NESTING & FEEDING:
BREEDING: Deciduous and mixed deciduous-coniferous woodland, riparian woodland, parks, orchards. 1 brood in n, 2? in s. Mating system is monogamous.
DISPLAYS: "Dancing," drumming, bill waving, crest raising used in territorial displays and with duetting in courtship. Stilted, floating flight occurs in both aggression and courtship.
NEST: New hole yearly, entrance often camouflaged by surrounding fungus/lichen/moss. Lined with chips. Excavated in 13-20 days (average l6). Female usually selects site.
EGGS: 4-5 White. 0.8"(19 mm).
CHICK DEVELOPMENT: Both sexes incubate. Incubation takes 12 days. Development is altricial (immobile, downless, eyes closed, fed). Young leave the nest after 20-25 days. Both sexes tend young.
DIET: Insects (75% to 85%); fruit, seeds, sap from sapsucker holes.
CONSERVATION: Winter resident. Occasionally uses birdhouse for roost but not for nest.
NOTES: Pair initially hold large territory which shrinks after nest site selected and excavated. Male reportedly performs most of brooding. Fledglings dependent for up to 3 weeks. Sexes forage separately: males prefer small branches, upper canopy and branches less than 60 feet from horizontal. Other hole-nesting species may invade roosting holes or nests. Each bird excavates winter roost.
Deciduous and mixed woodland, second growth, towns. From wc, nc Alaska, s Yukon, sw Mackenzie and n Saskatchewan e across c Canada to e Quebec and Newfoundland and s to sw Calif., c Arizona, sc New Mexico, sw Kansas, wc Oklahoma, c,e Texas, Gulf coast and s Florida.