Downy Woodpecker [Picoides pubescens] ~ #77

Downy Woodpeceker ~ Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta, BC ~ Sept 13, 2015
Downy Woodpecker

I’ve been really wrestling with the id for this one. The Downy Woodpecker and the Hairy Woodpecker are so similar that it’s hard for an amateur like me to be confident on the id.

It was difficult to get a clear picture.  She was a little high in the tree and as she started moving around would be obscured by the branches and leaves. (I believe this one to be a female as the males generally have a patch of red on the back of their heads.)

Downy Woodpecker ~ Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta, BC ~ Sept 13, 2015
Downy Woodpecker

Once I got home I was able to zoom in on the pictures for more detail as I tried to pinpoint the differences. I used this page on the allaboutbirds site to help.  It said the Downy Woodpecker was a little smaller than the Hairy, but without having the two side by side that was not so easy to determine.

The Downy Woodpeckers’ beak is also a little shorter, which I am thinking applies to the bird in the top picture.  Also the Hairy has a black comma mark which runs from the shoulder to the chest, which is absent on this particular bird.  It also noted a difference in the tails, but none of my photos seem to capture her tail very well.

Downy Woodpecker ~ Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta, BC ~ November 2014
Downy Woodpecker

Regardless, this is a cute little bird and full credits go to any critter who spends all day looking for food by banging his head against a tree.


    1. Hi Sherry. I know these pics aren’t the best, but the only ones I have. I am just documenting my search for birds each year to see how many I can find and identify, unfortunately a lot of times the pictures aren’t the best. Sometimes I can supplement with pics from my archive, but sometimes not. I have a flickr account [] where I share my better photos.


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