Downy woodpeckers are the the smallest of all woodpeckers. Their plumage is a mix of black and white. Both male and females have a white upper back chest and lower tail feathers. Their wings, lower back and upper tail feathers are black with white spots. Their heads have thick black and white stripes. Male downy woodpeckers have a red patch on their head. Juveniles have more of a red cap. As you can see from the photo, female downy woodpeckers don’t have either. Downy woodpeckers found in West Washington, have more of a tannish color instead of white, which East Washington downy woodpeckers have. female downy male downy woodpecker Female downy Male downy woodpecker woodpecker Fast Facts Downy woodpeckers range from 14 cm -18 cm (5.5 in-7.1 in) in length. Their wingspan ranges from 25 cm-31 cm (9.8 in-12 in) in length. They live about 6 years. The downy Woodpecker-Description
Downy woodpeckers typically inhabit broadleaved and mixed forests especially those with black cotton wood and willow. They are also found in residential areas, along rivers, by streams, in orchards, cities and parks. Downy wood peckers are permanent residents in most places. Sometimes the northern downy woodpeckers move south or to a lower elevation, but not usually. They are common and are wide spread throughout Washington. Fast Facts There are three different recognized sub-species of downy woodpeckers. 1. Those found in eastern Washington 2. Those found along the eastern slopes of the cascades 3. Those found in western Washington. The Downy Woodpecker-Range and Habitat
Downy woodpeckers mainly eat insectslikeants, beetle larvae and caterpillars. They also feed on berries, nuts and grains. Downy woodpeckers are common at bird feeders and are occasionally found at at humming bird feeders. The Downy Woodpecker-Diet This is a male downy wood pecker eating a grub.
Nest placement Downy woodpeckers nest in dead trees of dead parts of live trees. They tend to choose a small stub (about 7 in in diameter) and place the entrance on the underside. Nest description Bothmale and female downy woodpeckers carve out the inside of the chosen tree or branch to make a cavity about the size of a football (6-12 in deep). This job takes about 1-3 week. The cavity widens toward the bottom to make room for the eggs (and the parents) The bottom is lined with woodchips. Downy woodpeckers sometimes camouflage the entrance of their nest with lichen or moss. Nesting facts Clutch size-3-8 eggs Egg length- 0.7-0.8 in (1.9-2 cm) Egg width- 0.6-0.6 in (1.4-1.5 cm) Incubation period-12 days Nesting period-18-21 days Egg description-pure white Condition at birth- naked pink skin, a sharp egg tooth (for breaking egg shell.) at tip of bill, eyes closed. The Downy Woodpecker-Nesting Habits
The Downy Woodpecker-Natural and Human Threats Natural and human threats How we can help Downy woodpeckers are very abundant and have very few threats. There conservation status is of the least concern. The shift from wooden to metal fence posts may have reduced their numbers, but not much else has. You can help downy Woodpeckers by, • Leave out birdfeeders • Planting trees around your neighborhood • Don’t cut down dead trees! Leave them so downy woodpeckers (and other birds) can nest in them.
There are many Native American stories about woodpeckers. Woodpeckers are a symbol of wisdom and perseverance. Male downy woodpecker’s red patches on their heads are said to be a badge of courage and are the Native American symbol for bravery. They are also considered to be lucky birds. Fast Facts Woodpeckers are important clan crest for northern tribes. They are also sometimes found on totem poles. some Californian tribes consider woodpeckers as medicine birds • Woodpecker stories • The Story of The Maple Tree • - Lenape folklore about a woodpecker and a maple tree helping each other • When Coyote imitated the woodpecker • - Caddo tribe legend about coyote imitating the woodpecker • The Legend of the woodpecker • - An Odawa Indian story about woodpeckers • Master Rabbit and the Woodpeckers • -Mi’kmaq legend about a rabbit trying (and failing) • to imatate the woodpecker The Downy Woodpecker-Cultural Importance
Bibliography • Boring, Mel, and Linda Garrow. "Downy Woodpeckers." Birds, Nests, and Eggs. Milwaukee, WI: Gareth Stevens, 1998. N. pag. Print. • "Common Birds of the Pacific Northwest." Rainier Audubon Society. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 May 2013. • Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Cornell University, n.d. Web. 21 May 2013 • "Distribution of Downy Woodpecker." Birdzilla.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2013. Website • "Downy Woodpecker." All About Birds. Cornell University, n.d. Web. 21 May 2013 • "Downy Woodpecker." Bird Web. Seattle Audubon Society, n.d. Web. 22 May 2013 • "Downy Woodpecker." Wikipedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2013 • Mann, Charly. "The Downy Woodpecker - A Symbol for Courage." Oklahoma Birds and Butterflies. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2013 • "Native American Woodpecker Mythology." Native American Indian Woodpecker Legends, Meaning and Symbolism from the Myths of Many Tribes. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2013. • "Weeks Bay Reserve Foundation Photo Album -Woodpecker Photos." Weeks Bay Reserve Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2013. • "Woodpecker Medicine." Woodpecker Medicine. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2013.