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Merlin Bird ID

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    Hairy Woodpecker

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    Hairy Woodpecker

    Picoides villosus
    • ORDER: Piciformes
    • FAMILY: Picidae
    Basic Description

    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
    image of range map for Hairy WoodpeckerRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

    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.

    Other Names
    • Carpintero Albinegro Mayor (Spanish)
    • Pic chevelu (French)

    Backyard Tips

    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