Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens


  • Size: 6 to 7 inches (14-17 cm)
  • Wingspan: 10 to 12 inches (25-30 cm)
  • Weight: .74 to .99 ounces (21-28 g)

This small woodpecker has white-spotted black wings and black and a white streaked face. It has a white back and under parts. The sturdy bill is about half as long as the head.


Eats a variety of insects, but prefers wood eating insects. Can be attracted to wild bird feeders with suet bird food and black oil sunflower seeds.

Sex Differences:

The male has a red patch on the back of its head while the female has a black patch on the back of her head.


During breeding season the male excavates a nest cavity in dead wood. Clutch will contain 4 to 5 white eggs and incubation takes 11 to 12 days. Very rarely will they occupy a birdhouse.


Downy Woodpecker Range Map
Downy Woodpecker Range Map Key

A Few Things You Probably Didn't Know:

  • The Downy Woodpecker is the smallest and most common American woodpecker, it is found throughout most of North America from Alaska to Florida.
  • Through the winter, it will feed with mixed flocks such as Chickadees and Juncos. The male and female will stay in the same area, but feed in different places. The male feeds on small branches while the female feeds on larger branches and tree trunks.
  • If you listen carefully, you can hear the "drumming" - loud, continuous, very rapid pecking on resonant surfaces, like dead trees. Drumming helps define their territory and attract mates during breeding season.

Trying to attract a Downy Woodpecker? Find out how. 

More information on other backyard birds. 

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