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Friends of the Wild Flower Garden
P. O. Box 3793
Minneapolis, MN 55403

Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus) vs Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)

Did you ever wonder whether you were seeing a Hairy Woodpecker or a Downy Woodpecker? This comparison should give you the clues. The larger Hairy Woodpecker is on the left. Notice the large difference in size (About 3 inches more in length) and in the size of the bills with the Hairy's much longer and thicker. The clue is the Downy's bill is much shorter than the diameter of the head and the Hairy's bill is almost as long or longer than that diameter. Both birds shown here are females. In the male, both will have red spots on the back of the head. This composite photo shows both birds in a true size comparison as the photos were taken from the same distance, perspective and magnification within a 60 second time frame

Hairy vs Downy
Hairy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker - female.
Downy Woodpecker
Juvenile Downy Woodpecker. The red patch near the forehead is a mark of a juvenile male. In the adult the forehead is black and the red patch moves to the back of the head.

Hairy Woodpecker
Female Hairy.
Downy Woodpecker
Female Downy. Note the black marks on the white tale, which the Hairy lacks.

Below: Female Downy.

Downy Woodpecker