Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Hairy vs. Downy.

Hairy Woodpecker (male).

Here in Suburbia, with its scattered scraps of forest and smallish trees, the diminutive Downy Woodpecker is relatively common bird. The larger, but similar-looking Hairy Woodpecker, a bird of mature forest clearings, is much less common, so seeing one at the local park rates as a minor thrill.

Downy Woodpecker (female).

With a little experience, it is easy to tell the two species apart, by size (Hairy = 9.25 inches; Downy = 6.25 inches), and proportions, especially relative bill size. The Downy's bill is dainty, a little derringer of a weapon.

Hairy Woodpecker (male).

The Hairy, on the other hand, packs a serious beak.


April Lorier said...

Aw, once again, the male has brighter colors and is more beautiful. This "ain't fair"!

cedrorum said...

Very good synopsis. I always use the bill to tell them apart.

randomtruth said...

Very helpful Hugh. We get both species around my brother's place by Yosemite, and I constantly struggle with differentiation, even when I get good pictures. The fact that both have similar bug hunting behaviors sure doesn't help with ID either. Or that Nuttall's looks the same as Hairy if you can't see the back spots!

Btw - I dunno why April thinks it ain't fair for the males to have all the color - it's for the females! Seems like a culture where women don't have to worry about looking nice for men or each other, but still get to choose the primped-up pretty boy they want would be ideal for women... :)