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The Downy Woodpecker = Two Thumbs Up!

Woodpeckers are always fun to watch. There are 22 different species in North America, and I am lucky enough to have 7 of them visit my backyard. One of my favorite of the 7 is the Downy Woodpecker. The Downy is the smallest woodpecker at roughly 5-6" long. The male and female Downy both look the same except for the male has a little red cap on the back of his head. They have a high-pitched whinny (link below) that is unmistakable, and like all woodpeckers a drum that they use mainly in breeding season to establish territories. Nothing like hearing the drum of a any woodpecker on the roof of your house! Downy Woodpecker Sounds

Two Male Downy Woodpeckers Vie For Territory

Female Downy

We have had a female Downy bring her fledglings to our feeders for the past four years, and I am always thrilled to see them. She keeps returning to our humble tree line, because of the availability of good cavity nesting sites as there are quite a few dead and half-dead trees for her to choose from. Several years ago one of her fledglings, a little male, was quite enamored of me, and would always fly to the brick wall or one of my houseplants and watch me drink coffee. His mom didn't seem to mind, and sometimes she would join him on the side of the house. It was always amazing to watch the tiny momma Downy take care of her babies while navigating this great big world. She was such a good momma, and I hope to see her again this year.

Momma Feeding Male Fledgling

Curious Little Male Fledgling On Ficus Tree

Downy Woodpeckers love to eat black oil sunflower seeds, peanuts, and suet. Most feeders will accommodate a woodpecker, but you can also buy specialty feeders that have a "tail prop". This allows the woodpecker to steady itself with it's stiff tail. They use their tail to help propel them up and forward when climbing trees. You will notice in my photos how the tail is always pressed against whatever object they are holding on to.

This little female visited us last winter and early spring. She was such a messy little thing! Her face was always plastered with suet, and grime, and even though she had a place with water to clean up she never did utilize it. I dubbed her "Little Miss Messy Face". She finally decided to clean up a bit, and enjoyed hanging out on the side of our house.

Little Miss Messy Face

Little Miss Messy Face

I hope you are able to see Downy Woodpeckers in your backyard, or out on a trail. They are a joy to watch and too cute for words! Listen for their whinny, and for the peck, peck, peck of their beak on tree, and you won't have far to look.

Little Miss Messy Face Finally Cleans Up