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Hairy Woodpecker

Dryobates villosus

Length: 8.5 to 10.5 inches Wingspan: 15 to 18 inches Seasonality: All Seasons
ID Keys: Size, bill nearly as long as head is deep, white outer tail feathers lacking spots, bold call

Hairy Woodpecker - Dryobates villosusThe Hairy Woodpecker is very similar to the Downy Woodpecker, which has a smaller size and shorter bill.  The Hairy Woodpecker tends to be less common, shyer, and more restricted to areas with large trees than it's smaller cousin.  Both are permanent residents in South Dakota.  Males (pictured at the right) have a red patch on the back of their heads, while females do not.

Habitat: Will use a wide variety of habitats including forests, woodlands, residential areas, and riparian areas, but typically requires large trees to be present. 

Diet: Mostly insects. Also eats some seeds and berries, as well as nuts and suet at feeders. 

Behavior: Actively forages on the trunks and branches of trees.  They will also sometimes forage in bushes and other vegetation.  They are much more likely to excavate and peel bark from trees than are the smaller Downy Woodpeckers.

Nesting: The nest of a Hairy Woodpecker is a cavity excated in a tree, made by both the male and female.  The female lays between 3 and 6 eggs, with the male incubating the eggs at night and the female incubating them during the day.  The eggs hatch in about 2 weeks, with both parents helping to feed the young.  The young fledge after about 4 weeks, but the parents continue to feed them for a time after fledging,

Song: Hairy Woodpecker Song

Migration: Generally a permanent resident throughout its range, although there are indications that some birds at the far northern edge of the range may move south in the winter.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Hairy Woodpecker sightings

Similar Species: Downy Woodpecker.  See Comparison Chart

Bird Feeder: Sunflower seeds, nuts, suet, peanut butter.

Conservation Status: Widely distributed and common, but numbers are likely below historical levels in many areas due to loss of habitat.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Hairy Woodpecker

2) BirdWeb - Hairy Woodpecker

3) Audubon Guide - Hairy Woodpecker

Photo Information: February 4th, 2006 - Perry Nature Area near Sioux Falls, South Dakota - Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Hairy Woodpecker photos.


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Hairy Woodpecker - Dryobates villosus - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Uncommon permanent resident throughout the state.

Additional Hairy Woodpecker Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
 Hairy Woodpecker -  Dryobates villosusHairy Woodpecker -  Dryobates villosusHairy Woodpecker -  Dryobates villosusHairy Woodpecker -  Dryobates villosusHairy Woodpecker -  Dryobates villosus