Bird of the Week – The Hairy Woodpecker

By Bob Walker

The Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus) is one of the most common and abundant of the North American Woodpeckers. They are not as common at the nature center as the Acorn Woodpeckers we frequently see, but there have been many reports of Hairy Woodpeckers in the area. Slightly smaller than the Acorn Woodpecker, the Hairy Woodpecker enjoys the suet feeder and the various seed mixes we use. Away from feeders, they tend to be shyer than Acorn Woodpeckers.

The Hairy Woodpecker has a black-and-white striped face, all-white belly, white spots on the wings, and an all-white back. The males also show a distinct patch of red behind their heads that is not present on females. They look very similar to Downy Woodpeckers, but have a much larger bill (about the size of their head), where the Downy’s bill is only about half as long.

Hairy Woodpeckers don’t migrate, but are often more visible at your feeder in the winter, when food is otherwise more scarce. You can attract them by putting out some suet or black oil sunflower seed.

When a Hairy Woodpecker flies into a nearby tree, he will often make a distinctive, sharp, single-note call. You can hear an example of this call below, or at the xeno-canto bird sound website.

You can also find more detailed articles about the Hairy Woodpecker on the web pages at identify.whatbird.com and allaboutbirds.org. Enjoy more beautiful photos of Hairy Woodpeckers at the Jacob Spendelow and Linda Goff web sites.