Downy or Hairy?

Downy Woodpecker

Telling a Downy Woodpecker from a Hairy Woodpecker is tricky.  Sure the Downy is smaller coming in at about 6 3/4″ and the Hairy is a third larger with a length of 9 1/4″, but they never seem to be on my feeders at the same time. I don’t know about you but sometimes I really can’t tell, maybe it is an immature Hairy and not really a Downy. I learned some great tips on how to differentiate them from Stan Tekiela’s seminar on “Uncommon Facts about Common Birds”.  The Downy’s bill is short and stubby and only about half the length of the head. The Hairy’s bill is longer and almost equal to the length of the head.  A second tip is to look at the outer tail feathers. The Downy will have faint black bars or spots on the white feathers.  The Hairy has pure white outer tail feathers. Male or Female? That’s easy – the male sports the red spot on the back of his head. Take a look at the woodpecker visiting my nut feeder.  Hairy or Downy?

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