Right up Close: Downy Woodpecker

Photo of Downy Woodpecker

I photographed this Downy Woodpecker yesterday at the Plainville Cemetery. Her steady call notes alerted me to her location. Unlike males, females lack red on the back of their heads.

Photo of Downy Woodpecker

This is the smallest woodpecker in New England and very similar in plumage to the larger Hairy Woodpecker.  Telling the two apart by size alone can be tricky if only one species is present.  One difference is that Downy Woodpeckers have black spots on their outer tail feathers (noticeable in the top photo, but not always easy to see in the field) whereas Hairy Woodpeckers have all white outer tail feathers. Bill length is another good field mark, with Hairy Woodpeckers having substantially longer bills relative to their head size.

Photo of Downy Woodpecker

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