For tips from our Veterinary co-author, like how to tell the difference between downy and hairy woodpeckers based on their behavior, scroll down! Their size difference is surprisingly hard to see, except when … "Had some helpful points, and I liked it. Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. She graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1987 with a degree in veterinary medicine and surgery. Even though both kinds of woodpecker are black and white, you can tell them apart by looking closely at the pattern of their feathers. We recommend a double suet feeder with tail prop like this one on Amazon, but we also like using a squirrel proof suet feeder. Here are some ways to do this: For comparison – the Downy is roughly the same size as a House Sparrow, while the Hairy is similar in size to a Robin. She graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1987 with a degree in veterinary medicine and surgery. Size is an obvious means to discriminate the two species, but this sometimes isn't apparent with a lone bird. They may even peck into sugar cane to drink the sugary juice within. They measure between 9-10 inches in length and weigh around 1.4-3.4 ounce with a wingspan of about 15 inches. National Audubon Society WILDTONES ® is a registered trademark of Wildsight Productions, Inc. Tail Feathers: If you can’t get a good view of the beak, then check out the tail feathers. Dr. Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS is a veterinarian with over 30 years of experience in veterinary surgery and companion animal practice. Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers are commonly found in woods and like to visit feeder areas where there are suet and seeds to feed on. Hairy's can be more aggressive. Downy Woodpecker : Hairy Woodpecker: Picoides pubescens : Picoides villosus : Plumage patterns on the Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers are strikingly similar, with very little to differentiate the two species. While Downys are between a sparrow and robin size. First, the downy woodpecker’s white outer tail feathers show some black barring or spotting, while the hairy woodpecker’s outer tail feathers are plain. The male and female of each species are roughly the same sizes, so if you are looking at two woodpeckers of different sizes, the smaller is likely to be a Downy and the larger a Hairy. She has worked at the same animal clinic in her hometown for over 20 years. Downy woodpeckers have a short, small bill, while hairy woodpeckers have a bill that's almost as long as their head. Also, the male Hairy’s red patch is often split in two, while the Downy’s is not. )", How to Tell the Difference Between Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, https://www.audubon.org/news/how-tell-hairy-woodpecker-downy-woodpecker, http://www.birdwatching.com/tips/downy_and_hairy_woodpeckers.html, http://www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw_fr/AboutBirdsandFeeding/woodpeckerIDtable.htm, http://www.sibleyguides.com/2011/02/a-new-clue-for-identifying-downy-and-hairy-woodpeckers/, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Downy_Woodpecker/sounds, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Hairy_Woodpecker/sounds, http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birding/hairy-woodpecker/, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Hairy_Woodpecker/lifehistory, http://www.birdwatching.com/stories/smallvictory.html, http://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?a=2723&q=416874, Distinguere un Picchio Lanuginoso da un Picchio Villoso, Diferenciar Entre um Pica Pau Felpudo e um Pica Pau Peludo, reconocer las diferencias entre los pájaros carpinteros vellosos y los peludos, distinguer un pic mineur d'un pic chevelu, consider supporting our work with a contribution to wikiHow. Second, downy woodpeckers have a plain shoulder, while a black spur of color juts onto hairy woodpeckers’ shoulders toward the breast. If this is difficult to gauge, a good trick is to imagine turning each bird's bill around, so that it points toward the back of the bird's head. Hairy Woodpeckers never feed on weeds. How far across the head does it appear to extend? Please help us continue to provide you with our trusted how-to guides and videos for free by whitelisting wikiHow on your ad blocker. Example: Yes, I would like to receive emails from Wildtones . X The hairy woodpecker is distinctly larger than its downy cousin—about nine inches from the tip of its bill to the end of its tail. Upon seeing an individual bird, identification can at first be difficult. Size: Hairys are a bit bigger than Downys – about the size of a Robin. For the best chance of seeing one of these two species in your yard, you’ll need a good suet feeder. 24 comments This article was co-authored by Pippa Elliott, MRCVS. If it is the length of the head, you are looking at a Hairy Woodpecker. Copyright © 2020 Wildsight Productions, Inc. All rights reserved. Find out more. By using our site, you agree to our. "Just saw a woodpecker at dusk and knew it was a Downy or Hairy Woodpecker but couldn't remember what to look for. For example, hairy woodpeckers have all white tail feathers, while the tail feathers on downy woodpeckers are spotted black and white. Easy to compare a bird to a Robin or Sparrow for size! We know ads can be annoying, but they’re what allow us to make all of wikiHow available for free. Last Updated: July 3, 2020 Because of their smaller size, Downy Woodpeckers can eat foods that larger woodpeckers can't access, like insects in the stems of larger weeds. Downy Woodpecker (left); Hairy Woodpecker (right); Photo Credit: Stan Tekiela, Birdwatching in New York City and on Long Island. Beak Size: The most pronounced field mark is beak size. Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 32,499 times. References. This article has been viewed 32,499 times. If you really can’t stand to see another ad again, then please consider supporting our work with a contribution to wikiHow. However, when viewing an individual bird, it can be difficult to judge this difference in size. For more info, check out this piece from BirdNote. We'd love to have you in our flock! The Downy Woodpecker is the smaller of the two, while the Hairy Woodpecker can be up to 50% larger. (To compare, the downy woodpecker is about six and a half inches long.) Go to source Both Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers feed on suet, which is a great source of protein and fat for them. The outer tail feathers of a Downy Woodpecker are white with a few black spots. Hairy woodpeckers don’t have any black spots on their outer tail feathers. Hairy Woodpecker ◼ They are just about the size of a robin, but larger and more slender than the Downy. wikiHow is where trusted research and expert knowledge come together. (It was a hairy female. Both have a similar black and white appearance and can be tricky to identify. The outer tail feathers of a Downy Woodpecker are white with a few black spots. For tips from our Veterinary co-author, like how to tell the difference between downy and hairy woodpeckers based on their behavior, scroll down! This article has been viewed 32,499 times. For comparison – the Downy is roughly the same size as a House Sparrow, while the Hairy is similar in size to a Robin.