How to Tell the Difference Between Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers

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Use a field guide.,
Invest in a pair of binoculars.,
Set up an attractive feeder.,
Take photographs for comparison.,
Respect the birds.

Field guides provide information about the different species of birds you may be able to see in your region. There are many to choose from, and some are available online.However, some people prefer to purchase a hard copy of the field guide with illustrations or pictures to help you in your identification process.

, A good pair of binoculars with decent magnification (x7 or x8) can be a handy tool when trying to identify different birds. For example, it may be very difficult to spot the subtle differences in color pattern between the Downy and the Hairy Woodpecker without the use of binoculars.

, Purchase a wire or mesh feeder (to keep out the squirrels) and set it up with feed that both species of woodpecker enjoy.

Both Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers feed on suet, which is a great source of protein and fat for them. This is particularly necessary during the cold winter months.
Seeds, especially sunflower seeds, are also a popular choice.
Be aware that because of their diminutive stature Downy’s will often wait until other birds are away from the feeder to use it. Hairy’s can be more aggressive. , If you have time and a relatively high quality camera, taking photographs of the different birds allows you to keep a visual record and undertake a more detailed comparison. It also affords you a chance to examine the birds when they are still, unlike in the wild, where they are often in flight or moving.

, Woodpeckers are an essential part of the regional ecosystem, they help to control the insect population and make nest cavities that are used by other species of birds and mammals who can not excavate them on their own.You should take care not to disrupt the birds or their habitat.

The first principle of the American Birding Association is that bird-watchers should promote the welfare of birds and their environment, be mindful of this when you are trying to identify different bird species.

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