- ORDER: Piciformes
- FAMILY: Picidae
The larger of two look alikes, the Hairy Woodpecker is a small but powerful bird that forages along trunks and main branches of large trees. It wields a much longer bill than the Downy Woodpecker's almost thornlike bill. Hairy Woodpeckers have a somewhat soldierly look, with their erect, straight-backed posture on tree trunks and their cleanly striped heads. Look for them at backyard suet or sunflower feeders, and listen for them whinnying from woodlots, parks, and forests.More ID Info
Find This Bird
You can find Hairy Woodpeckers by scanning the trunks and main branches of large trees, looking for a boldly patterned black-and-white bird. Also listen for their abrupt whinny or their explosive peek call. When Hairy Woodpeckers are foraging busily, you can often hear their energetic tapping if you stand quietly.
- Pico Velloso (Spanish)
- Pic chevelu (French)
To bring Hairy Woodpeckers into your yard, try setting up suet, peanut, and black oil sunflower feeders, especially in the winter when food is scarce. Find out more about what this bird likes to eat and what feeder is best by using the Project FeederWatch Common Feeder Birds bird list.
If you have dead trees in your yard, or dead parts in a living tree, and if it’s safe to leave them standing, a pair of Hairy Woodpeckers might try to start a family there. In later years, their hole might become a home for wrens, chickadees, nuthatches, bluebirds, or flying squirrels.
- Cool Facts
- Across North America the Hairy Woodpecker can be found from sea level to high in the mountains. In Central America, it is restricted to higher mountain forests.
- Hairy and Downy woodpeckers occur together throughout most of their ranges. The Downy Woodpecker uses smaller branches while the Hairy Woodpecker tends to spend more time on trunks.
- Hairy Woodpeckers sometimes follow Pileated Woodpeckers, and sometimes appears when it hears the heavy sounds of a pileated excavating. As the pileated moves on, the Hairy Woodpecker investigates the deep holes, taking insects the pileated missed.
- Hairy Woodpeckers sometimes drink sap leaking from wells in the bark made by sapsuckers. They’ve also been seen pecking into sugar cane to drink the sugary juice.
- The oldest recorded Hairy Woodpecker was a male, and at least 15 years, 11 months old when he was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in New York in 2010.