The easiest way to tell the difference between the Downy Woodpecker and Hairy Woodpecker is their size. Both look natty in their checkered plumage, but how to tell them apart? Physically, the Downy’s black and white feather pattern resembles the slightly larger Hairy Woodpecker. The bill of the downy woodpecker is a short and small needle-like beak and dainty in comparison, about 1/3 the length of the bird’s head. The hairy… A few years ago I was alerted to a subtle difference in the head patterns of Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers when I read a short note by Mark Szantyr with a nod to Julian Hough in the journal The Connecticut Warbler.He pointed out that Downy Woodpecker has a … The distinct tuft of a nasal bristle is noticeable at the base of the bill. So look at the bill. Downy Woodpecker by Andrew Yee Both of these incredible woodpecker species live in High Park and as such, we would like to encourage you to practice telling them both apart on your next visit. The larger bird on the right is the hairy woodpecker; the smaller (left) is a downy. The black mark that extends from the shoulder onto the breast is less distinctive in the Downy Woodpecker. Hairy Woodpeckers are several inches larger than Downys. The hairy woodpecker is about 1/3 longer than the downy and weighs almost 3 times as much! Hairy Woodpeckers prefer towering trees and deeper woods, while the Downy Woodpecker can settle for younger trees and herbaceous plants. A contact call vs. a distress call if you were too close for example. Downy Woodpeckers typically have small bills. A Hairy Woodpecker could always use its larger size to chase a Downy Woodpecker away from a prime feeding spot or potential nest cavity, but would have no such guarantee should it choose to battle another Hairy Woodpecker. Hairy Woodpecker Posted on October 29, 2020. And it doesn't have the black spots on its outer tail feathers like the Downy. Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers have nearly identical vocalizations for most calls. In instances where size comparisons might not be available, experts suggest examining the bill size in relation to the head size. Downy Woodpeckers have shorter bills in relation to their body size where a Hairy Woodpecker… Another features of note is if you look at the tail feathers on the downy in the bottom picture. Bill size is another. Beak Size: The most pronounced field mark is beak size. The downy's bill is tiny in proportion to the head. The colors and patterning of hairy and downy woodpeckers are nearly identical, making these two bird species easy to confuse. Similar looking birds to Hairy Woodpecker: Downy Woodpecker Male (Eastern), Ladder-backed Woodpecker Male, Nuttall's Woodpecker Male, American Three-toed Woodpecker Adult male, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Male. Compare the picture of the Hairy Woodpecker with the Downy. So if you heard a significant difference what you probably heard were different types of calls. Make the ID: Downy vs Hairy Woodpecker. Two woodpeckers who look very much alike are busy inspecting tree bark around North America looking for food. But even if you can’t observe these spunky birds, you can identify them by listening carefully. Seen next to each other (as in the picture) their size difference makes identification easy, if you know which one is larger. Yet when you see one alone, without the other for comparison, it can be tricky to identify it on size alone. These Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers appear nearly identical, but the Hairy Woodpecker is larger than the Downy, with a distinctly longer bill. The hairy woodpecker has a long and strong chisel-like beak that is almost the same size as its head. Downy Woodpecker The downy woodpecker’s white outer tail feathers are usually barred in black, giving it a spotted effect. 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