The Downy Woodpecker is the smallest of all woodpeckers and the most acrobatic. Hoping from tree limb to smaller branches to tall dry grass the Downy is always on the move.
It is sometimes hard to tell the Downy from the Hairy Woodpecker as they are often mixed up because they look so much alike. But one way to tell if you have a Downy is to look at the size of the bird and its beak. The Downy is just about 6 inches tall and the Hairy is 50% larger. Also, the Downy has a shorter beak.
Just about everyone in the United States will have a Downy except for folks living in the aired mid-Southwest. They can be found in local parks, wooded fields and your backyard.
In Winter you will often find them joining roving mixed flocks of Chickadees, Nuthatches, Carolina Wrens and other small birds coming to your suet feeder and/or your platform feeder for black sunflower seeds and some unsalted peanuts.
In the Summer you find them in your trees or hunting insects like ants, caterpillars and gall wasp to name a few of their favourites.
Male and female Downy spend much of the year alone except when Fall and early Winter comes. Then you will hear them pecking on dead trees. The male with his red patch of feathers on the back of his head will advance and the female will accept and together they will start to build a nest.
Chance of ever seeing a Downy nest is pretty slim unless you cut down a dead tree. Most nests are 6 to 60 feet in the air and are 6 to 12 inches deep with a camouflage of fungus and lichen around the opening. The nest is larger at the bottom and will hold 3 to 6 white eggs.
Both parents incubate the eggs for about 12 days and when hatched both will provide the young with food. In about 2o to 25 days the young will leave the nest and stay with their parents for a year.
Dowey Woodpeckers have 1 brood a year except in the deep South where they may have a second brood.
The Dowey is not the state bird of any state .... which is a great mystery to me!