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Hairy Woodpecker


Woodpeckers are small to medium-sized, mostly black-and-white birds, with strong, sharply pointed bills for chiseling and digging into trees. They drill in search of food (insects and larvae) and to excavate nesting cavities. As they climb up tree trunks they use their stiff tails as a brace. Their flight is undulating, with the wings folded against the body after each series of flaps. These climbers have strong feet, with two toes facing forward and two backward.

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Resembling a jumbo downy woodpecker, the hairy (Picoides villosus) is best told by its larger size, proportionately much bigger bill, and unspotted outer tail feathers.


Breeding occurs mostly from February through June. Male hairy woodpeckers excavate nest holes in dead branches or tree trunks, usually high off the ground. Both parents incubate the eggs. Clutch sizes consist of 2-5 eggs and incubation lasts 14 days. Young fledge 28-30 days after hatching.

Habitat & Behavior

This species is much less tolerant of forest fragmentation than the downy woodpecker, and is generally confined to larger, older woodlands. The hairy woodpecker also has a much louder, more explosive call. When diving, it releases a drawn out rattling cry somewhat reminiscent of a belted kingfisher. Typical foods include insects and spiders.