Downy Woodpecker

(Dryobates pubescens)

Conservation Status
Downy Woodpecker
Photo by Bill Reynolds
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

     
  NatureServe

N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
           
           
           
 
Description
 
 

Downy Woodpecker is the smallest woodpecker in North America. It is 5¾ to 7 long, weighs ¾ oz. to 1 oz., and has a 10 to 12 wingspan. It is as long or only slightly longer than a backyard suet feeder.

The back and belly are white to grayish-white. The wings are black with white bars. The tail is mostly black. The outer tail feathers are white with a few black spots.

The head is black with a white bar above and below each eye. The throat is white. There is a conspicuous tuft of white hairs at the base of the bill. The bill is short and stubby, much shorter than the length of the head. Males have a small red patch on the nape of the neck. Juvenile males have a red patch on the forehead but no red patch on the nape of the neck. Females do not have a red patch, either on the forhead or on the nape.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

5¾ to 7in length

12 wingspan

 
     
 

Voice

 
 

 

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
 

Hairy Woodpecker (Leuconotopicus villosus) is a larger bird, 8 to 9½ long. It is significantly longer than a backyard suet feeder. The outer tail feathers do not have black spots. The bill is much longer, almost as long as the head.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius) is a larger bird, 7 to 9 long. The back is black-and-white barred. The lower breast and belly are washed with yellow. The belly is faintly barred. There is a large and conspicuous white patch on the wing. The forehead and forward part of the crown is red. There is no red on the nape of the neck. Males have a red chin.

 
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Deciduous and mixed forests, especially in birch stands; orchards.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Migration

 
 

 

 
     
 

Nesting

 
 

The male and female excavate a nest hole in a dead tree or dead limb of a live tree. Excavation takes from 1 to 3 weeks, then the hole is lined with wood chips. The entrance hole is often on the underside of the stub of a fallen branch.

The female usually lays 4 or 5 eggs, sometimes as few as 3 or as many as 8. The eggs hatch 11 to 13 days later. The young stay in the nest 18 to 21 days.

There is only one brood per year. A new nest is excavated each year.

 
     
 

Food

 
 

Insects and insect eggs and larvae; berries; acorns; grains; suet and black oil sunflower seeds at bird feeders.

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Occurrence

 
 

Common year-round resident

 
         
 

Maps

 
 

The Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union All Seasons Species Occurrence Map

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Class Aves (birds)  
 

Order

Piciformes (woodpeckers and relatives)  
 

Family

Picidae (woodpeckers)  
 

Subfamily

Picinae  
 

Genus

Dryobates (Dryobates woodpeckers)  
       
 

Downy Woodpecker was formerly classified as Picoides pubescens. A molecular phylogenetic study published in 2015 showed that the genus Picoides was not properly restricted (not monophyletic). Downy Woodpecker and four other species were placed in the newly resurrected genus Dryobates.

 
       
 

Subordinate Taxa

 
 

Batchelder’s Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens leucurus)

Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens fumidus)

Gairdner’s Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens gairdnerii)

Northern Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens medianus)

Southern Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens pubescens)

Valdez Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens glacialis)

Willow Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens turati)

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Dendrocopos pubescens

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

       
Visitor Photos
   
Share your photo of this bird.
       
Wayne Rasmussen
       
  Downy Woodpecker    
       

Woodpecker, Maplewood Hts Park

  Downy Woodpecker    
       

A morning greeter at Nerstrand Big Woods SP

  Downy Woodpecker    
       
Dan W. Andree
       

Adult male

  Downy Woodpecker    
       

Adult female

  Downy Woodpecker    
       

A little male Downy Woodpecker perched on a deer antler.

  Downy Woodpecker    
       
Bill Reynolds
       
  Downy Woodpecker    
       
Tom Baker
       
  Downy Woodpecker   Downy Woodpecker
       
  Downy Woodpecker    
       
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
   
       
       

 

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Slideshows
   
  Downy Woodpeckers
Andree Reno Sanborn
 
  Downy Woodpeckers  
 
About

Dryobates pubescens

D for Downy comes before H for Hairy, so Downy is smaller than Hairy. And they have the short beak.

 
     
  Downy Woodpecker
Allen Chartier
 
  Downy Woodpecker  
     
  Downy Woodpecker
Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren
 
  Downy Woodpecker  
     
  Downy Woodpecker
JMC Nature Photos
 
  Downy Woodpecker  

 

slideshow

       
Visitor Videos
   

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Other Videos
 
  Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens), Dorris Ranch, Springfield, Oregon
Rob Mutch
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Dec 16, 2011

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Downy_wo...
Encyclopedia of Life (EOL): http://eol.org/pages/1047051/overview
---
Rob's blog: http://www.robmutch.com/
Rob at Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/robmutch1
Rob at Twitter: http://twitter.com/robmutch
Rob at Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/robmutch1/
Rob at Google+: http://plus.google.com/11080449768089...

[taxonomy:binomial=Dryobates pubescens]

   
       
  Downy Woodpecker on Suet Cake
MoviesMusicNature
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Oct 12, 2009

This is a couple of Downy Woodpeckers that visit my suet cake quite often. If I'm sitting on the porch I can hear them pecking at the tree above waiting for a visit to the suet cake. I can be a few feet away from the suet cake sitting on the swing and they will come right up and start chomping on the suet while I'm there.

The Downy Woodpecker, Dryobates pubescens, is the smallest woodpecker in North America. Adults are mainly black on the upper parts and wings, with a white back, throat and belly and white spotting on the wings. There is a white bar above the eye and one below. They have a black tail with white outer feathers barred with black. Adult males have a red patch on the back of the head.

Downy Woodpeckers forage on trees, picking the bark surface in summer and digging deeper in winter. They mainly eat insects, also seeds and berries. In winter, especially, Downy Woodpeckers can often be found in treed suburban backyards and will feed on suet at birdfeeders.

https://www.youtube.com/redirect?q=http%3A%2F%2Fen.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FDowny_Woodpecker&session_token=ncy9OGVbydBm_CiZjcDyMm7uRjJ8MTM5NDIyNjkwMkAxMzk0MTQwNTAy

The background music is used with Thanks from freesound.org and the user billcanada

http://www.freesound.org/samplesViewSingle.php?id=17881

   
       

 

Camcorder

         
Visitor Sightings
   
Report a sighting of this bird.

Wayne Rasmussen
5/20/2018

Location: Maplewood Nature Center

Downy Woodpecker


Dan W. Andree
February 2018

Location: Norman Co. Mn.

adult male

I am often amazed that these small woodpeckers and other non-migratory birds / mammals are able to survive the sometimes brutal winter conditions.   However- some do.  

Downy Woodpecker


Dan W. Andree
2/14/2018

Location: in the woods near the Wild Rice River in Norman Co. Mn.

adult female

Downy Woodpecker


Dan W. Andree
2/8/2018

Location: in the woods near the Wild Rice River in Norman Co. Mn

A little male Downy Woodpecker perched on a deer antler.

Downy Woodpecker


Wayne Rasmussen
11/5/2016

Woodpecker, Maplewood Hts Park

Downy Woodpecker


Wayne Rasmussen
6/28/2016

Location: Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park

A morning greeter at Nerstrand Big Woods SP

Downy Woodpecker


John & Susan
12/11/2015

Location: Louisville Twp (Shakopee area)

They've been occasional visitors this year to our bird feeders. One with black sunflowers seeds & the other with blended bird feed.


Bill Reynolds
10/9/2013

 

Downy Woodpecker


Tom Baker
4/15/2012

Location: Edenbrook Conservation Area

Downy Woodpecker


Tom Baker
12/31/2009

Location: Edenbrook Conservation Area

Downy Woodpecker


Tom Baker
8/12/2009

Location: Purgatory Creek Park

Downy Woodpecker


     
     
 
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Created 10/3/2012

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