Downy or Hairy Woodpecker


It is probably a downy because they are more common.

If the length of the beak looks smaller than the breadth of the head, it is a downy.

If it appears about 1/2 a foot long, it is a downey.

If it looks smaller than the suet feeder, it is a downy.



If the woodpecker’s beak is about the same length as the breadth of his head, it is a hairy.

If he looks about a foot in length, it is a hairy.

Now you know.


About mothernaturesgarden

Gardening in Tennessee Zone 6 at an average of 744.65' above sea level.
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11 Responses to Downy or Hairy Woodpecker

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  2. lynnsgarden says:

    Hi Donna, I don’t see much of these in my garden but next time, I’ll remember how to identify them 😉 Great photos, btw!

  3. Gail says:

    I just refer to them all as Downy Woodpeckers! Who knew? Now we do! Thanks, gail

  4. Frances says:

    Great photos and info, Donna, thanks! We are never sure and thought it had something to do with the stripe on the back. The beak and size things should help a lot! I think most of our visitors are downy, but will now know for sure. 🙂

  5. Noelle says:

    What amazing photos! We have a particular species of woodpecker known as a Sapsucker. I definitely need to work on my camera skills when it comes to capturing wildlife. Thank you so much for sharing.

  6. Hairys are larger than Downys also, aren’t they Donna???? I knew about the beak–but other than that and the size they are very similar. We have mostly Downys here –although I think I have seen a few Hairys.

    Great pictures.

  7. Tatyana says:

    Good morning Donna! I don’t know who is who, but I like those white polka dots on their wings!

  8. I’m looking forward to all of ‘my’ birds arriving for the winter! So far, they’ve been strangers. I need to put some suet out for them–that’s really what draws them in. I had a hard time figuring this out too…but another trick I learned was Downy=’down’ and Hairy=’high’ or ‘huge’–I associate ‘down’ with smaller and ‘high’ with larger. It works for me;-) Your description is very informative;-)

  9. jwlw says:

    Good Morning: Lots of Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers here. Year around activity to our suit and other feeders.

    Have a great day,

  10. Sue says:

    The woodpeckers in my neighborhood seem to be shy. I don’t see them often. Nice shots!

  11. Janet says:

    Good to remember this! I need these ‘hints’ to know one from the other, Thanks!

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