Downy Woodpeckers Mini Journal

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Model: MJ-49
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Downy Woodpecker

The downy woodpecker is the smallest, tamest and most abundant eastern woodpecker. The tail feathers afford rigid support as the bird hitches its way up the trunk.  The hard sharp bill is used to chisel into bark and wood while searching for insects or excavating a nest hole.  The nostrils are covered with bristlelike feathers to protect them from wood dust raised by the woodpecker’s drilling.  In contrast to the irregular pecks made during feeding and excavating, the downy woodpecker also pecks in a loud, continuous manner on hard surfaces including trees, poles and drainpipes.  Known as “drumming,” this behavior is thought to announce territory and attract mates, as song does for other birds.  The bird’s unique skull structure reduces the shock of impact against hard surfaces.

Mated pairs of downy woodpeckers remain together throughout the year.  They are generally not migratory as their food supply of insect pupae and larvae is available under bark or in dead rotted wood year-round.  Downy woodpeckers roam the winter woods in the company of mixed flocks of chickadees, nuthatches, creepers and kinglets. Downy woodpeckers come to bird feeders for suet, cracked walnuts and peanut butter.

artwork and text by Steve Sierigk © 1998

 


 

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