Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bird a Day - Downy Woodpecker

What: Female downy woodpecker above. Male shown below, note the visible red blotch on his nape. Sex is pretty easy to determine for most of our woodpeckers. General rule: If it has red on its head it's a male, if not it's female. Beware, as this doesn't always work (as with pileated woodpeckers - both have red on their head).

Hairy woodpeckers (coming tomorrow) can be really difficult to tell the apart from downys. A hairy woodpecker is beefed up downy woodpecker (hairys are about the size of robins, downys are just slightly bigger than titmice). My old roommate, and fantastic naturalist, Emily Stone, used the following mnemonic:

    "What bill??" - downy woodpecker
    "What a bill!!" - hairy woodpecker

Note that the downy has a thin narrow bill shorter than the bird's head is; hairys have thick chunky bills longer than the diameter of the bird's head.

Where: Silver maple in my backyard

No comments:

Post a Comment