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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Wildlife Sighting: Female Downy Woodpecker

Today we saw a beautiful female Downy Woodpecker on the tree just outside our window, from about 5 feet away. Awesome.One of the funnest elements of moving to a new city has been learning about the locals animals and nature.

As a going away present, a family of birders gave us binoculars for birding in the winter. We'll have to get a field guide for the Illinois area and get birding this winter. Can you recommend any ideal places for birding in the Chicago area?

Info on the Downy Woodpecker
Size & Shape
Downy Woodpeckers are small versions of the classic woodpecker body plan. They have a straight, chisel-like bill, blocky head, wide shoulders, and straight-backed posture as they lean away from tree limbs and onto their tail feathers. The bill tends to look smaller for the bird’s size than in other woodpeckers.

Color Pattern
Downy Woodpeckers give a checkered black-and-white impression. The black upperparts are checked with white on the wings, the head is boldly striped, and the back has a broad white stripe down the center. Males have a small red patch on the back of the head. The outer tail feathers are typically white with a few black spots.

Downy Woodpeckers hitch around tree limbs and trunks or drop into tall weeds to feed on galls, moving more acrobatically than larger woodpeckers. Their rising-and-falling flight style is distinctive of many woodpeckers. In spring and summer, Downy Woodpeckers make lots of noise, both with their shrill whinnying call and by drumming on trees.

You’ll find Downy Woodpeckers in open woodlands, particularly among deciduous trees, and brushy or weedy edges. They’re also at home in orchards, city parks, backyards and vacant lots.


Thank you for reading my blog "Evanston Newbie", a project that I am using to chronicle my new life in Evanston. Do you have favorite Evanston bakeries, bike shops, events that you can recommend? Send me an email at and I will post my review on this blog. -Lisa Degliantoni


  1. We had one this morning in our back yard; South Metro Denver, CO.

  2. How fun that you're reading this blog in Denver! This woodpecker is getting me all kinds of traffic! Where did you find this post? Fun!

  3. I saw one today in Central Jersey march 21, 2013

  4. I got a picture of one today here in New Orleans' Lafreniere Park. Thanks for helping me identify it!

  5. I saw one today in our front yard in Southern WV. Thanks for giving the great info on it!

  6. Just snapped a photo of one on our balcony feeder eating suet. I'm shocked it came within 2 feet of me!

  7. We have a male and female visiting our feeders every day here in Northeast Ohio.

  8. Have one right now on my suet feeder here in McLeansville, NC.

  9. I just saw one drinking out of my hummingbird feeder in Paris Tx

  10. A female is vigorously dismantling our dying mulberry tree in the front yard of our Mira Loma, California home. Gotta love it!

  11. Found your post when I was looking for a pic of the woodpecker I saw this morning in Denver -- yep, that's her! :)

  12. We have one female that visits everyday, she is so beautiful. We live In the GTA just East of Toronto Ontario Canada. We have winter finch, sparrows, blue Jays, cardinals in the summer, junkoes, redwing black birds, chickadees and more; a couple of squirrels made their nest in between our 2 sheds, perfect place for them, one black and a beautiful grey squirrel with white behind his ears. All being fed everyday ensures they keep coming back to our backyard!