Hairy and downy woodpeckers look similar, a vivid black and white with a white stripe down the back. Downy woodpeckers essentially look like miniature hairy woodpeckers but have much shorter bills in proportion to the size of their head. Males of both species have bright red neck patches. However, despite their close resemblance, downy and hairy woodpeckers are not very closely related.
These birds are mostly permanent residents. They forage on trees, often turning over bark or excavating to uncover insects. They mainly eat insects, also fruits, berries and nuts, sometimes tree sap. Both the hairy and downy woodpeckers frequent bird feeders filled with animal fat or suet during the winter.
We recently have enjoyed frequent visits by some of these local woodpeckers to our feeder, here at Kenai Wildlife Cabins. It is said they also eat shelled peanuts – something we will have to try!