Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Description of the Hairy Woodpecker

The Hairy Woodpecker is streaked with black and white, forming checker patterns and wears a black mask. The male has a red patch on the back of the head making it look somewhat like the Downy Woodpecker. The female, although also black and white with a black mask, does not have the red tuft on the back of the head.

The Hairy Woodpecker weighs in at nearly 3 ounces and has a wingspan of nearly 18 inches and is 6-10 inches long. It’s bill is much longer, proportionally, than that of the smaller Downy Woodpecker.

Longevity and Molting of the Hairy Woodpecker

The Hairy Woodpecker is born without the fine down that is often associated with hatchlings.  They will spend between 28-30 days in the nest and leave with their juvenile plumage.  While similar in color to that of the adult Hairy Woodpecker, the white feathers are often a more dull or creamy color.  The young Hairy Woodpecker may also have some light pink or yellow coloring appear on their heads, this varies greatly.  Between July and October of their first year young Hairy Woodpeckers will molt into their winter plumage that is similar in color to those of an adult yet more on the fluffy side.  Adults will primarily molt around August, however they may go through a partial molt in the springtime prior to breeding season.

Family Life of the Hairy Woodpecker

The Hairy Woodpecker does not necessarily mate for life, however it is common that after maintaining their own territories in early winter they will pair back up with their mate from last year in mid winter.  They will select a nest site from the female’s territory and excavate it together.  Nests are often built in cavities in trees.  They pair will only have one brood per season and will continue to feed their young after they have left the nest.

What Do Hairy Woodpeckers Eat?

These omnivores eat primarily insects (80% of their diet) they extract from the surface of trees, but also eat fruit and seeds and particularly enjoy sunflower seeds.  Any blend containing Black Oil Sunflower seeds will attract the Hairy Woodpecker to a feeder.