Woodpecker family (Picidae)
Our smallest woodpecker, 5 ¼” long. Black-and-white checked back, white underparts, black-and-white streaked face. Male (shown in image) – small red patch on nape. Female (not shown) – no red on head. Bill is tiny, barely extending beyond the tufts of feathers at its base.
Forest, forest edges, open areas.
Cavity nester. Excavates its own nest, typically near the top of a dead tree or in a dead limb of a live tree. Eggs are white. Clutch size – 3 to 8 eggs.
Two common calls, a “pick” and a “rattle”. The Downy Woodpecker says “pick” with a flat or chirping sound, sounds conversational, not urgent. The rattle is a short series of notes with about the same quality as the “pick” call, starting at the same pitch as that call and then descending. You could almost count the notes in the Downy’s rattle.
“Downy”, for its shaggy and hairy appearance, but not quite so unkempt as the Hairy Woodpecker. Picoides, Latin, picus, for “woodpecker”;pubescens, Latin for “downy”.
In the Nature Park:
Year-round resident. Commonly observed in the woods and in open areas. Often visits bird feeders at the Welcome Center during winter. Downy Woodpeckers forage in mixed-species flocks with chickadees, nuthatches, and titmice during winter.