Trustworthy Source This article has been viewed 32,499 times. Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. (To compare, the downy woodpecker is about six and a half inches long.) 24 comments This article has been viewed 32,499 times. She graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1987 with a degree in veterinary medicine and surgery. Dr. Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS is a veterinarian with over 30 years of experience in veterinary surgery and companion animal practice. WILDTONES ® is a registered trademark of Wildsight Productions, Inc. The outer tail feathers of a Downy Woodpecker are white with a few black spots. Downy Woodpecker : Hairy Woodpecker: Picoides pubescens : Picoides villosus : Plumage patterns on the Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers are strikingly similar, with very little to differentiate the two species. Even though both kinds of woodpecker are black and white, you can tell them apart by looking closely at the pattern of their feathers. The male and female of each species are roughly the same sizes, so if you are looking at two woodpeckers of different sizes, the smaller is likely to be a Downy and the larger a Hairy. The Hairy prefers towering trees and deeper woods, while the Downy will settle for baby birches and cattails. Also, the male Hairy’s red patch is often split in two, while the Downy’s is not. Find out more. "Just saw a woodpecker at dusk and knew it was a Downy or Hairy Woodpecker but couldn't remember what to look for. Beak Size: The most pronounced field mark is beak size. Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers are commonly found in woods and like to visit feeder areas where there are suet and seeds to feed on. Downys have small beaks – almost unnaturally so, and Hairys have much larger thorn-like beaks. In contrast, the Downy's bill is short and dainty, roughly 1/3 the length of the bird's head. Easy to compare a bird to a Robin or Sparrow for size! Here are some ways to do this: For comparison – the Downy is roughly the same size as a House Sparrow, while the Hairy is similar in size to a Robin. Hairy's can be more aggressive. Two woodpeckers who look very much alike are busy inspecting tree bark around North America looking for food. First, the downy woodpecker’s white outer tail feathers show some black barring or spotting, while the hairy woodpecker’s outer tail feathers are plain. If this is difficult to gauge, a good trick is to imagine turning each bird's bill around, so that it points toward the back of the bird's head. Copyright © 2020 Wildsight Productions, Inc. All rights reserved. This is particularly necessary during the cold winter months. Upon seeing an individual bird, identification can at first be difficult. (You can unsubscribe anytime), Co-authored by Deborah Rivel, owner of Wildtones, this book is a detailed insider’s guide to the best places to find birds in New York City and on Long Island in all seasons. Because of their smaller size, Downy Woodpeckers can eat foods that larger woodpeckers can't access, like insects in the stems of larger weeds. )", How to Tell the Difference Between Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, https://www.audubon.org/news/how-tell-hairy-woodpecker-downy-woodpecker, http://www.birdwatching.com/tips/downy_and_hairy_woodpeckers.html, http://www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw_fr/AboutBirdsandFeeding/woodpeckerIDtable.htm, http://www.sibleyguides.com/2011/02/a-new-clue-for-identifying-downy-and-hairy-woodpeckers/, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Downy_Woodpecker/sounds, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Hairy_Woodpecker/sounds, http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birding/hairy-woodpecker/, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Hairy_Woodpecker/lifehistory, http://www.birdwatching.com/stories/smallvictory.html, http://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?a=2723&q=416874, Distinguere un Picchio Lanuginoso da un Picchio Villoso, Diferenciar Entre um Pica Pau Felpudo e um Pica Pau Peludo, reconocer las diferencias entre los pájaros carpinteros vellosos y los peludos, distinguer un pic mineur d'un pic chevelu, consider supporting our work with a contribution to wikiHow. For tips from our Veterinary co-author, like how to tell the difference between downy and hairy woodpeckers based on their behavior, scroll down! X The Hairy Woodpecker's bill is long and chisel-like, and almost the same length as its head. Downy Woodpecker ◼ They are generally small in size, about the size of a sparrow, measuring about 6-7 inches in length, with a weight of about 0.74-1 ounce.