Posted by Steve Rushing on September 26, 2022 at 8:02 pm
Male (red nape) Downy Woodpecker
North America’s smallest woodpecker. Not much larger than the chickadees & nuthatches they often hang out with.
This socializing is practical too. Hanging with small songbird flocks gives Downies more eyes to watch for predators & scout for food, especially insects, which make up 75% of their diet. This strategy works for them because of their small size. They can actively forage on the same tiny branches, weed stalks, & plant galls as the songbirds. All insect-rich sources not accessible to their larger woodpecker cousins.
Overall Downy Woodpecker populations have held steady, and in some locations increased, since the mid-1960s.
A bonus of keeping our yards songbird friendly – more of these engaging little birds.