Downy Woodpecker

Frequent backyard visitors, Downy Woodpeckers may form pairs very early in the season, tapping out their courtship song on a tree trunk. Listen for this rhythmic sound as early as January.


Downy Woodpecker
Susan Chaffin
Downy Woodpecker, juvenile (L) and female (R)
Roland Jordahl
Downy Woodpecker
Linda Petersen
Downy Woodpecker


Downy WoodpeckerLinda Petersen
Linda Petersen Downy Woodpecker

Scientific Name: Picoides pubescens.
Family: Woodpecker.
Length: 6-1/2 inches.
Wingspan: 12 inches.
Distinctive Markings: Black above and white below with white-spotted black wings and tail. The back of the male’s head has a red patch.
Nest: Excavates or reuses a cavity in a dead tree or uses a woodpecker nesting box. Lays four to five white eggs.
Voice: Short and flat “pik” call.
Habitat: Any open wooded area, including parks and backyards.
Diet: Insects, caterpillars, berries and nuts.
Backyard Favorites: Suet and peanut butter.

Bird Song & Range Map

Listen to the Downy Woodpecker’s song and learn where to spot them!

Bird songs provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Downy Woodpecker Bird SpeciesRange maps provided by Kaufman Field Guides, the official field guide of Birds & Blooms.

Jill Staake
Jill lives in Tampa, Florida, and writes about gardening, butterflies, outdoor projects and birding. When she's not gardening, you'll find her reading, traveling and happily digging her toes into the sand on the beach.