24 comments Downy Woodpecker : Hairy Woodpecker: Picoides pubescens : Picoides villosus : Plumage patterns on the Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers are strikingly similar, with very little to differentiate the two species. Also, the male Hairy’s red patch is often split in two, while the Downy’s is not. "Just saw a woodpecker at dusk and knew it was a Downy or Hairy Woodpecker but couldn't remember what to look for. Hairy woodpeckers don’t have any black spots on their outer tail feathers. Downy Woodpecker ◼ They are generally small in size, about the size of a sparrow, measuring about 6-7 inches in length, with a weight of about 0.74-1 ounce. This article was co-authored by Pippa Elliott, MRCVS. Hairy Woodpeckers never feed on weeds. Both Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers feed on suet, which is a great source of protein and fat for them. % of people told us that this article helped them. The first principle of the American Birding Association is that bird-watchers should promote the welfare of birds and their environment, be mindful of this when you are trying to identify different bird species. The wingspan ranges between 10-12 inches. Hairy Woodpeckers, however, make a similar short sharp note, described as more of a. Hairy Woodpeckers also have a rattling or whinnying call. We use cookies to make wikiHow great. National Audubon Society Lastly, it’s important to note that the Downy Woodpecker is much more abundant than its Hairy counterpart, especially in suburbia. Downy woodpeckers have a short, small bill, while hairy woodpeckers have a bill that's almost as long as their head. "Had some helpful points, and I liked it. This article has been viewed 32,499 times. This article has been viewed 32,499 times. ". Be aware that because of their diminutive stature Downy's will often wait until other birds are away from the feeder to use it. The hairy woodpecker is distinctly larger than its downy cousin—about nine inches from the tip of its bill to the end of its tail. To tell the difference between downy and hairy woodpeckers, look at the size of their bill. Please help us continue to provide you with our trusted how-to guides and videos for free by whitelisting wikiHow on your ad blocker. This is particularly necessary during the cold winter months. Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. We recommend a double suet feeder with tail prop like this one on Amazon, but we also like using a squirrel proof suet feeder. The Hairy prefers towering trees and deeper woods, while the Downy will settle for baby birches and cattails. The outer tail feathers of a Downy Woodpecker are white with a few black spots. Second, downy woodpeckers have a plain shoulder, while a black spur of color juts onto hairy woodpeckers’ shoulders toward the breast. Trustworthy Source Both have a similar black and white appearance and can be tricky to identify. There are 18 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. (It was a hairy female. How far across the head does it appear to extend? Here are some ways to do this: For comparison – the Downy is roughly the same size as a House Sparrow, while the Hairy is similar in size to a Robin. Copyright © 2020 Wildsight Productions, Inc. All rights reserved. She has worked at the same animal clinic in her hometown for over 20 years. Nonprofit environmental organization focused on conservation, citizen science, and public science education, Method 1 of 3: Telling the Difference Based on Appearance, {"smallUrl":"https:\/\/www.wikihow.com\/images\/thumb\/5\/53\/Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-1-Version-2.jpg\/v4-460px-Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-1-Version-2.jpg","bigUrl":"\/images\/thumb\/5\/53\/Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-1-Version-2.jpg\/aid139084-v4-728px-Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-1-Version-2.jpg","smallWidth":460,"smallHeight":345,"bigWidth":"728","bigHeight":"546","licensing":"

License: Creative Commons<\/a>
\n<\/p>


\n<\/p><\/div>"}, {"smallUrl":"https:\/\/www.wikihow.com\/images\/thumb\/d\/d3\/Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-2-Version-2.jpg\/v4-460px-Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-2-Version-2.jpg","bigUrl":"\/images\/thumb\/d\/d3\/Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-2-Version-2.jpg\/aid139084-v4-728px-Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-2-Version-2.jpg","smallWidth":460,"smallHeight":345,"bigWidth":"728","bigHeight":"546","licensing":"

License: Creative Commons<\/a>
\n<\/p>


\n<\/p><\/div>"}, {"smallUrl":"https:\/\/www.wikihow.com\/images\/thumb\/9\/99\/Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-3-Version-2.jpg\/v4-460px-Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-3-Version-2.jpg","bigUrl":"\/images\/thumb\/9\/99\/Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-3-Version-2.jpg\/aid139084-v4-728px-Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-3-Version-2.jpg","smallWidth":460,"smallHeight":345,"bigWidth":"728","bigHeight":"546","licensing":"

License: Creative Commons<\/a>
\n<\/p>


\n<\/p><\/div>"}, Method 2 of 3: Telling the Difference Based on Behavior, {"smallUrl":"https:\/\/www.wikihow.com\/images\/thumb\/1\/17\/Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-4-Version-2.jpg\/v4-460px-Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-4-Version-2.jpg","bigUrl":"\/images\/thumb\/1\/17\/Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-4-Version-2.jpg\/aid139084-v4-728px-Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-4-Version-2.jpg","smallWidth":460,"smallHeight":345,"bigWidth":"728","bigHeight":"546","licensing":"

License: Creative Commons<\/a>
\n<\/p>


\n<\/p><\/div>"}, Research lab of Cornell University dedicated to interpreting and conserving the Earth's biological diversity through research and education about birds, {"smallUrl":"https:\/\/www.wikihow.com\/images\/thumb\/7\/7e\/Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-5-Version-2.jpg\/v4-460px-Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-5-Version-2.jpg","bigUrl":"\/images\/thumb\/7\/7e\/Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-5-Version-2.jpg\/aid139084-v4-728px-Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-5-Version-2.jpg","smallWidth":460,"smallHeight":345,"bigWidth":"728","bigHeight":"546","licensing":"

License: Creative Commons<\/a>
\n<\/p>


\n<\/p><\/div>"}, {"smallUrl":"https:\/\/www.wikihow.com\/images\/thumb\/6\/62\/Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-6.jpg\/v4-460px-Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-6.jpg","bigUrl":"\/images\/thumb\/6\/62\/Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-6.jpg\/aid139084-v4-728px-Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-6.jpg","smallWidth":460,"smallHeight":345,"bigWidth":"728","bigHeight":"546","licensing":"

License: Creative Commons<\/a>
\n<\/p>


\n<\/p><\/div>"}, {"smallUrl":"https:\/\/www.wikihow.com\/images\/thumb\/0\/0c\/Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-7.jpg\/v4-460px-Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-7.jpg","bigUrl":"\/images\/thumb\/0\/0c\/Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-7.jpg\/aid139084-v4-728px-Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-7.jpg","smallWidth":460,"smallHeight":345,"bigWidth":"728","bigHeight":"546","licensing":"

License: Creative Commons<\/a>
\n<\/p>


\n<\/p><\/div>"}, Method 3 of 3: Learning More About Identifying Birds, {"smallUrl":"https:\/\/www.wikihow.com\/images\/thumb\/6\/6c\/Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-8.jpg\/v4-460px-Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-8.jpg","bigUrl":"\/images\/thumb\/6\/6c\/Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-8.jpg\/aid139084-v4-728px-Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-8.jpg","smallWidth":460,"smallHeight":345,"bigWidth":"728","bigHeight":"546","licensing":"

License: Creative Commons<\/a>
\n<\/p>


\n<\/p><\/div>"}, {"smallUrl":"https:\/\/www.wikihow.com\/images\/thumb\/7\/7c\/Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-9.jpg\/v4-460px-Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-9.jpg","bigUrl":"\/images\/thumb\/7\/7c\/Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-9.jpg\/aid139084-v4-728px-Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-9.jpg","smallWidth":460,"smallHeight":345,"bigWidth":"728","bigHeight":"546","licensing":"

License: Creative Commons<\/a>
\n<\/p>


\n<\/p><\/div>"}, {"smallUrl":"https:\/\/www.wikihow.com\/images\/thumb\/f\/fa\/Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-10.jpg\/v4-460px-Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-10.jpg","bigUrl":"\/images\/thumb\/f\/fa\/Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-10.jpg\/aid139084-v4-728px-Tell-the-Difference-Between-Downy-and-Hairy-Woodpeckers-Step-10.jpg","smallWidth":460,"smallHeight":345,"bigWidth":"728","bigHeight":"546","licensing":"