Two woodpeckers with a similar look

Two woodpeckers with a similar look

Meet your friendly neighborhood birds

The time has come to officially meet your neighbors: the birds. For many folks, both birders and people who are new to birding, watching the birds just outside our doors brings joy during hard times.


Hairy Woodpecker

This beautiful woodpecker can be found searching for insects along tree trunks and branches. If you have a suet or sunflower seed feeder, you can bet they will be there, messily grabbing suet with their beaks.

Fun fact: Sometimes Hairy Woodpeckers drink sap left over from leaking sap wells made by sapsuckers.


Downy Woodpecker

No you aren’t seeing double. The Downy Woodpecker looks almost identical to the Hairy Woodpecker, confusing the masses for generations. How can you tell the difference? The Downy Woodpecker is much smaller in size, both in body and in beak. It can be tough to see the size difference if you don’t have a Hairy nearby to compare to, but the beak is something you can always use as a marker. It’s half the size of the Hairy Woodpecker’s beak.

Fun fact: The Downy Woodpecker is the smallest woodpecker in North America.


At first glance:

You may just notice a few birds in your yard or neighborhood. But spend a little more time, and you’ll start to recognize repeat visitors and witness extraordinary behaviors like territorial fights, courting and mating, elaborate bird songs, foraging, and nest building. Our world may feel routine or mundane at time, but theirs rushes forward during the most exciting time of year — spring migration and baby bird season. You couldn’t ask for a better live performance right outside your home.


If you would like to learn more about the birds you see around town, visit

Photos by Mick Thompson