Sunday, September 28, 2008

Woodpeckers at My Feeders

After not having seen much of this Woodpecker species all summer, Mr. Hairy Woodpecker is back at our feeder area now feasting daily on peanuts. I refer to this bird shown above as Mr., simply to indicate it is the male of the species. The male Hairy Woodpecker has a red patch on the back of its head as does this one in the first two pictures. Shown below is a Downy Woodpecker and this one is a female, for just like the Hairy Woodpecker species, the red patch on the back of the head denotes that it is a male, but in this case, you can see no indication of red on the Downy pictured so we know it is a female.
The Hairy and Downy Woodpecker appear very similar in markings but there are three things that I look for when deciding which species I am looking at. The first is size as the Hairy is larger than the Downy. Just compare the size of the Hairy shown below in relation to the feeder cylinder, to the photo of the Downy above at the same peanut feeder. The Hairy also has a large long bill whereas the Downy has a small bill, and bill size is the second characteristic that I look
for.
The third thing I always look for are the little black marks that look like 'dashes' on the underside of the Downy's tail. If they are not there then it is a Hairy Wood- pecker for the Hairy does not have these undertail markings. The last photo shown here is of a female Downy Woodpecker.

18 comments:

Mary said...

Good photos and well explained! Even with all the indicators, I still feel like I am guessing sometimes. I get mostly Downys, but I did have Hairys all spring as well. My woodpeckers have been missing lately...but I know they will be back!

Mike - Fenphotography said...

Nice pics, our woody as vanished as well, it normally does for a few months and then comes back during the winter.

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Great photos and commentary.I had never been aware of the undertail dashes of the Downy.This is something I will be looking for now.We have both species regularily in winter.

NW Nature Nut said...

Downy *and* Hairys! You will have more woodpeckers in your October Bird Count than me!

Rambling Woods said...

Nice photos Ann..I have trouble sometimes and I will remember the "dashes" of the downy...

bobbie said...

Beautiful pictures.

Mo said...

These are beautiful close ups.

Deborah Godin said...

Great shots (as always!). I never have had an opportunity to use the dashes for an ID, but have relied mostly on bill size/proportion when only a single was present, especially if it was too far away to reliably gage the overall size of the bird. Love your attention to details.

Geraldine said...

What great photos Ann. I love woodpeckers! G

www.mypoeticpath.wordpress.com

Paz said...

Wonderful shots of this woodpecker.

Paz

Leora said...

I think I like the colors behind the woodpecker (on the top 2 photos) almost as much as the textures and colors of the bird.

YummY! said...

Pretty woodpeckers. Isn't it funny how in birds the males are always the more colorful and flashy to attract mates, but it works opposite in humans.

Ruth said...

I will be getting out my peanut feeder again soon. The nuthatches are hanging around. I only have had Downy Woodpeckers and one Yellow-bellied Sapsucker eat my peanuts and suet, but there are lots of Hairy Woodpeckers around the river. Great pictures and ID tips.

kjpweb said...

Excellent! Good info, too!
Cheers, Klaus

fishing guy said...

Ann: Great shots of the woodpeckers, that was a very nice display. I had some in my Buckeye Tree yesterday but it was a dull day. I hope I can post them.

Petrus said...

Some good bird pictures here ... excellent

2sweetnsaxy said...

Hey! I captured a woodpecker just like this the other day but my shots didn't come out anything like this which is why I didn't post them. These are great!

Wren said...

Great explanation - yours is the first picture of the tail markings I've seen.

If they are at all close, the size and the bill are good indicators. I didn't realize how noticeable the difference was until one day a downy flew into the yard. The lightbulb came on.