Description  9"  Black and white, with unspotted
white back and long bill; male has red head patch.

Hairy Woodpeckers closely resemble Downy
Woodpeckers but are larger and have much longer bills.
Like most woodpeckers it has an undulating flight.
Juveniles look like adults, but some have red on their

Habitat  Deciduous forest; more widespread in winter
and during migration.  They require areas with heavier,
more mature tree cover than Downy Woodpeckers and
are more dependent on the presence of large trees.

Diet  Bark-boring and wood-boring beetle larvae in
dead and dying trees are the main food of Hairy
Woodpeckers. They also feed on sap from sapsucker
holes, berries, nuts, seeds, and suet.

Nesting  Hairy Woodpeckers form monogamous
breeding pairs in late winter, and pairs from previous
seasons often re-pair. Like other woodpeckers, it
hammers on a dead limb as part of its courtship
ceremony and to proclaim its territory.

Both members of the pair excavate nesting and roosting
holes in soft or rotten wood, especially in aspens or dead

Although Hairy Woodpeckers spend most of their time in
coniferous forests, they prefer to nest in deciduous trees.
Both parents incubate the 4 eggs for about 14 days, and
both feed the young.

The young leave the nest after 28 to 30 days and follow
the parents around for some time thereafter. Each pair of
Hairy Woodpeckers typically raises one brood each year.

Range  Resident from Alaska and across Canada
south throughout United States to Gulf of Mexico. Some
northern birds migrate south for winter.

Hairy Woodpeckers are generally considered permanent
residents, although some may move south or into lower
elevations, especially into tall trees along lowland
streams during winter.

Voice   A sharp, distinctive peek, louder than that of
Downy Woodpecker; also a loud rattle on 1 pitch.

Discussion  The Hairy Woodpecker is more a forest
bird and is shyer than its smaller relative, the Downy

The Hairy Woodpecker is one of the most beneficial
birds, helping to save both forest and fruit trees by
destroying many harmful insects, such as wood-boring
beetles, which it extracts from holes with its barbed
February 2006
February 2006
Hairy Woodpecker