Downy Woodpecker

photo by Phil Swanson (female bird)

Picoides pubescens
L 6 3/4″ (17 cm).

Song or calls:
Listen (UNL audios)

Call is soft “pik.” Also gives a high descending whinny series “ee ee ee ee ee ee.”

Description: Contrasting black-and-white facial pattern with a black forehead, crown, and bridle across the eyes. White underparts; central part of back is white; and wings checkered black-and-white. Male is distinguish from female by red patch on nape. Told from Hairy Woodpecker by proportionately shorter bill and barred outer tail feathers.

Behavior: Has a habit of tapping on branches hardly wider than itself.

downy woodpecker
Habitat: Found in dense or open forests. Also common in urban gardens and parks. Forages in small trees, small branches of larger trees, shrubs, and tall weeds.

Where in Nebraska: Common permanent resident across the state. Regular breeder.

Fun Facts: Downy Woodpeckers do not sing like most birds but rather drum their beaks on trees or metal to achieve the same effect.

male Downy Woodpecker - photo by Phil Swanson female Downy Woodpecker - photo by Phil Swanson
(click image for larger view)