Downy Woodpecker Identification

The Four Keys to ID

  • Size & Shape

    Downy Woodpeckers are small versions of the classic woodpecker body plan. They have a straight, chisel-like bill, blocky head, wide shoulders, and straight-backed posture as they lean away from tree limbs and onto their tail feathers. The bill tends to look smaller for the bird’s size than in other woodpeckers.

    Relative Size

    About two-thirds the size of a Hairy Woodpecker

    Relative Sizebetween sparrow and robinbetween sparrow and robin
    Measurements
    • Both Sexes
      • Length: 5.5-6.7 in (14-17 cm)
      • Weight: 0.7-1.0 oz (21-28 g)
      • Wingspan: 9.8-11.8 in (25-30 cm)

Regional Differences

Downy Woodpeckers in the West are darker overall, and they tend to have less white in the wings than birds from eastern North America. Pacific Northwest have a dusky wash overall.