Hairy Woodpecker Vs Downy Woodpecker

The hairy woodpecker vs downy woodpecker species looks quite similar. But, there are some subtle differences that will help identify these birds.


At first glance, it will not be possible to find a difference between these two birds. If you observe well, you can distinguish two species of birds. These two species of birds are widespread throughout North America.


Hairy woodpecker vs downy woodpecker is black and white with almost identical patterns. The habitat of the two species is the same.


They usually go to the feeder area where they eat suet and sometimes seeds. Male birds of these two species have a red patch behind their heads. Here are some differences between hairy woodpeckers and downy woodpeckers.


About Hairy woodpecker:


The hairy woodpecker is black and white in color with a red patch behind its head. The size of this bird is around 10 inches. Male and female birds look similar in color.


They have a powerful beak with sharp edges which they use to drill cavities in the tree. The beak is very strong. They drill holes in the bark of trees and then eat insects inside the tree bark.


Hairy woodpecker vs downy woodpecker’s habit of feeding on the ground is different from other woodpeckers.


They also eat watermelon and corn. Their face looks bright with white color under their eyes.


History of Hairy woodpecker:


The hairy woodpecker was named in 1831 by John James Audubon. Dr. Bachman described the species and gave it its scientific name.


It belongs to the family of Picidae. The genus name is Picoides and it belongs to the same genus as northern flicker, yellow-shafted flicker, and black-backed woodpecker.


The habitat of this bird is boreal forests. You can see them in deciduous and coniferous forests.


Habitat of Hairy woodpecker:


The hairy woodpecker is found in North America. They have a wide range from Canada to Mexico. You can see them in mountains, forests, and parks in various regions.


They prefer dead or dying trees in forests and can be seen in open habitats feeding on the ground.


Lifespan Hairy woodpecker:


The average lifespan of a hairy woodpecker is 17 years. The maximum life span recorded was 25 years for this species.


About downy woodpecker:


The downy woodpecker is a small bird that lives in North America. The size of this bird is around 6 inches.


It has brown and black feathers with a white stripe on its throat. There is a red and white patch on the back of this bird which you can see at the top of its head.


It is the least sized American woodpecker. The size of this bird is more or less similar to a cardinal.


Downy woodpecker vs hairy woodpecker is a small bird with a long sharp beak. This beak helps it to drill holes in trees and eat insects.


Downy woodpecker vs hairy woodpecker is a member of the Picidae family in the order Piciformes.


Habitat of Downy woodpecker:


It breeds in Canada and winters in Mexico and some parts of South America. This bird is found in coniferous and deciduous forests throughout its range.


It prefers nesting in the cavities found in dead trees. They select a decaying old wooden fence that serves as their nesting area for this bird species.


History of downy woodpecker:


It was in 1829 that the downy woodpecker species was discovered by John James Audubon. In 1831, it was described and given its scientific name by the German naturalist, Johann Baptist von Spix.


The family of a downy woodpecker is Picidae and Genus is Picoides. The name of this genus was given by Linnaeus in 1758.


Lifespan downy woodpecker:


The average lifespan of a downy woodpecker is 11 years. The oldest recorded age for this bird species was 14 years.


Size & Shape:


Depending on the size of the bird, it is easy to determine the species. The length of the hairy woodpecker is 9.25 inches. And their wingspan is 15 inches.


The length of the downy woodpecker is 6.75 inches. And their wingspan is 12 inches (25-30 cm).


The difference in size indicates that the Hairy Woodpecker is about one-third larger than the Downy woodpecker.




The Hairy Woodpecker has a long and strong bill. Whose size is approximately equal to the length of the head. On the other hand, the downy woodpecker’s bill is short.


It is less than half the length of his head. Comparing bill sizes is much easier than comparing overall sizes.




These two woodpecker species are widespread throughout most of North America. The hairy woodpecker range is some larger. Hairy woodpeckers vs downy woodpeckers only some difference in their range.


Tail Feathers:


The hairy woodpecker’s outside tail feathers color is white and there are no spots. Downy woodpecker outside tail feathers color is white with black spots.




Hairy Woodpecker is usually shy in nature. they don’t give chance to be close. They like to eat dense branches and tree trunks.


Downy woodpeckers are birds full of curiosity. They give a chance to be close. They are a little different in terms of behavior. They often eat thin branches, small trees, and weed stalks.




Hairy woodpecker calls are very Higher-pitched, bold peek and louder, and stronger. On the other hand, Downy woodpecker calls are soft, descending pitch, and short mellow pink.




Plumage patterns on the hairy woodpecker vs downy woodpecker are similar. But, there is a very simple difference between these two species of birds.


It can be difficult to distinguish between two species of birds by looking at any one species. The differences between the two species of woodpeckers we have documented the obvious above.




Where do hairy woodpeckers’ downy woodpeckers’ nests?


They both can be found nesting in dead tree holes or natural cavities, but the downy may also choose to use man-made nest boxes.


Where the Downy woodpecker is found?


They are very commonly seen in the forests of North America. It is mostly seen in Mexico and at times it also travels to South America.


What is the difference between Hairy Woodpecker and Downy Woodpecker?


There are few differences between these two woodpecker species. These are as follows:


Size and shape of bills. Tail feathers Hairy woodpecker has white tail feathers with no black spots Downy woodpecker has white tail feathers with black spots Type of food.


Diet The Hairy Woodpecker eats decayed branches and soft rotten wood, The Downy Woodpecker usually eats thin branches and small trees/weeds stalk.


Behavior Hairy woodpecker is mostly shy and doesn’t give a chance to be close. The downy woodpecker is curious and mostly gives a chance to be closer.


What does their common name mean?


Hairy Woodpecker’s common name is made up of two parts. The first part is “hairy” which means having or being covered in hair, fur, or some type of covering.


This is the same as the term “hairy” that you may be familiar with. The second part of its common name is “woodpecker”.


Woodpeckers are a group of birds in the order Piciformes. They include about 200 species of birds.


What do they eat?


The Hairy Woodpecker will eat wood-boring beetle larvae, cambium, fruit, and nuts when available.


The Downy Woodpecker is an insectivore, which means it eats insects, including ants, beetles, spiders, aphids, caterpillars, and more. Both species also eat berries when in season.

Hairy Woodpecker Vs Downy Woodpecker Identification 2022

Rocky N. sarkar

Rocky N. Sarkar is a professional animals lover he loves Pets and he has a lot of Pets on his farm first, he experiments then shares his opinion with all animal lovers. hope all animals lover can get the right information. Happy Reading!

Post navigation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *