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Hairy Woodpecker


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

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.

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.

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.

Get Involved

Landscape your yard for woodpeckers and other cavity-nesting birds (PDF)

Keep track of the Hairy Woodpeckers at your feeder with Project FeederWatch

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Essay on Hairy Woodpeckers by Cornell Lab of Ornithology director John Fitzpatrick

Can Woodpecker Deterrents Safeguard My House?: Read about what works - and doesn't - on our blog

Great Backyard Bird Count: View an animated map showing the year-to-year changes in Hairy Woodpecker sightings



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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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