Project 366 – Post No. 016 – Downy Woodpecker

What is Project 366? Read more here!

The Downy Woodpecker is the smallest North American Woodpecker and quite likely also the cutest. The Downy Woodpecker holds a special significance to me as it is the first species that I identified for my 2019 Alberta Big Year. Today I found this little guy (the red patch indicates it is a male) down on the forest floor spending a long time going through all the nooks and crannies of an old log looking for anything to eat. Downy Woodpeckers are not shy and often come to suets in the winter. Today I realized, however, that they are tricky to photograph as they tend to be quite energetic and move around a lot. One of the first identification challenges I encountered when In started birding was to tell downies apart from their larger lookalike, the Hairy Woodpecker. Other that a slight size difference, with the Hairy being a tad larger, all other distinguishing characters are very subtle. The breakthrough for me came when I visited Beaverhill Bird Observatory in December and encountered both species at the bird feeder at the same time. Ever since that day I have had no troubles distinguishing between the two. The next few bird species that I would benefit from having next to each other to get that light bulb moment would be a Canadas Goose vs. a Cackling Goose and a Bohemian Waxwing vs. a Cedar Waxwing.

May the curiosity be with you. This is from “The Birds are Calling” blog ( Copyright Mario Pineda.

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