I was rather surprised to find that the 10,000 Clicks section of 10,000 Birds does not have a Hairy Woodpecker gallery. Surely this is a terrible oversight on someone’s part and may I say that the Downy Woodpecker post is also up for grabs.

JFK 28Jan13 Hairy Woodpecker 01

Hairy Woodpecker

I got lucky in Central Park at the end of January as this individual Hairy Woodpecker crossed the path in front of me and settled on a rotted stump close by. The most obvious way to tell the Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers apart is to note the size of the bird and the size of it’s bill. The Hairy Woodpecker is noticeably larger in each case.

ORD 15Sep11 Downy Woodpecker 01 - Copy

Downy Woodpecker with smaller bill

Sibley gives the call as a sharp “Peek”, but to my ears it sounded more like “Sweep”. Thanks to the generosity of www.xeno-canto.org, I can bring you the call note of the Hairy Woodpecker and the bird continued calling as it chiselled into the stump.

JFK 28Jan13 Hairy Woodpecker 04

On this occasion I did not hear the mono-pitched rattle call. The Downy Woodpecker has a similar rattle call that descends as it goes. I had to refer to Sibley’s bible for the drumming characteristics: The Hairy Woodpecker drums very fast and the beats are indistinguishable, melting into a buzz, but slow down towards the end.  The Downy Woodpecker drums more slowly. but still too fast to count accurately.

JFK 28Jan13 Hairy Woodpecker 05

The tufts at the base of the bill are said to be inconspicuous, but on this occasion I think they may have been stained by soggy woodpulp and stood out quite well.

JFK 28Jan13 Hairy Woodpecker 02

If you liked this post and want to see more great images of birds make sure to check out 10,000 Clicks, our big (and growing) page of galleries here at 10,000 Birds.

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Written by Redgannet
Redgannet has been working for over 33 years as a crew member/flight attendant and enjoys the well-ventilated air of the outdoors. The nom de blog, Redgannet, was adopted to add an air of mystery and to make himself more attractive to women. His father first whetted Redguga's appetite for all things natural by buying him his first pair of 7x35s and a copy of Thorburn's Birds. Having no mentor beyond an indulgent parent, he spent the first season hoping for an Egyptian Vulture at the bird table in his English garden. His most memorable birding moment is seeing an Egyptian Vulture with those same binoculars 26 years later. Redgannet is married to Canon, but his heart and half of his house belongs to Helen and their son Joseph. He is looking forward to communicating with people who don't ask if he is searching for the "feathered variety" of bird.