Description of the Downy Woodpecker
They have the typical straight posture of a woodpecker however they are the smallest woodpecker in North America, and the most common. You will notice black and white checkered wings and a white stripe down their back with a tuft of red at the back of the head on the males, while the females sport a black tuft.
These little clingers are 6-7 inches long, weigh just under one ounce and have two front-facing toes and two facing back to make it easier to climb and maneuver on vertical surfaces (like tree trunks).
Longevity and Molting of the Downy Woodpecker
In the wild these diminutive woodpeckers live 4-11 years and molt annually.
Family Life of the Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpeckers do not migrate, but join other birds to flock in the winter, such as Chickadees and Nuthatches. They nest by hollowing out a cavity in a dead tree, fence post or other deadwood — an exercise that can take the couple up to three weeks to excavate. They line their nest with wood chips exclusively.
Once complete, the female lays 4-5 white eggs. Both parents take turns with the chore of incubating the eggs and they only raise one brood per year.
What Do Downy Woodpeckers Eat?
They have long, sticky tongues that are perfect for catching insects. Insects are their preferred food and comprise about 75% of their diets. They also enjoy fruit, grains and particularly like Black Oil Sunflower Seeds.
Downy Woodpecker’s are the most likely member of the Woodpecker family to visit your backyard feeder. With Black-oil Sunflower, Sunflower Chips and Peanuts Woodpecker Wowie served up in a Platform or Hopper feeder is sure to be a hit with this crowd.