Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers look very much alike. When you see one without seeing the other, it can be very difficult to know which one you are looking at. We get both types at the feeder. Yesterday, I got one of each on the same feeder. Finally, you can really see the difference in size. The Downy is the small one. The Hairy Woodpecker is much bigger.

Since they are on the same feeder, the size difference is obvious.
In case you wanted to know, this is a Hairy — a female. You can tell because she doesn’t have a red patch on her head
Fly away home

Downy Woodpecker’s are the smallest of the North American woodpeckers. There must be smaller ones on other continents because all the write-ups say clearly they are the “smallest in North America.” This makes me assume there are smaller ones elsewhere, but no one seemed ready to tell me what or where they are.

These two nearly identical birds are not even closely related. The Downy took the coloration of the Hairy. It is protective since it helps scare away bigger birds who — like people — can’t tell at a distance which bird they are seeing.

Categories: #Birds, #Photography, Anecdote, Woodpeckers

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