Boreal Birds
300+ species, billions of birds rely on Canada's boreal forest as critical breeding grounds
© Wolfgang Wander/Wikimedia Commons (CC 3.0)

Downy Woodpecker, male

Downy Woodpecker
Picoides pubescens
Tree-clinging Birds | Family: Woodpeckers, Picidae

An estimated 13% of the species' North American population breeds within the Boreal Forest.

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Overview

The Downy is a familiar bird in its range, especially in winter, when many move into the suburbs and feed on suet at bird feeders. It is often seen in the mixed flocks of chickadees, nuthatches, creepers, and kinglets that gather in the woods during migration and winter. As with other woodpeckers, the male is larger than the female and chisels deep into wood with its longer, stronger bill, whereas the female pries under the bark with her shorter bill. Thus a pair is able to share the food resources without competing with one another.

Description

6" (15 cm). A sparrow-sized, black and white woodpecker. Small red patch on nape in males. Similar to Hairy Woodpecker, but smaller and with short, stubby bill.

Voice

A quiet pik. Also a descending rattle.

Nesting

4 or 5 white eggs in a hole in a tree.

Habitat

Woodlands, parks, and gardens.

Range/Migration

Resident from Alaska across Canada, south throughout United States except Southwest.