Photo courtesy Pete Williams, Gulf Breeze, Florida
The Downy Woodpecker measures about 6.5 inches long. Look for small size, short bill, black and white pattern on the head and wings. The back is white. The male will have a red patch on its head. Its preferred habitat is woodlands, orchards, suburbs, and parks.
The little Downy is probably our most familiar woodpecker. In winter it readily takes suet from bird feeders and often joins the mixed bands of small birds that roam through the woods, each species feeding in a different manner but all deriving protection from the wariness of the flock. The larger Hairy Woodpecker is more of a forest dweller than the Downy. Both "Downies" and "Hairies" are named for their feathers, probably the short ones around their nostrils. The similar Three-toed Woodpecker is strictly a western dweller.