The Downy Woodpecker

Essay by Tom2High School, 10th gradeA+, January 1997

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A very good 10 page report...very spell check!!! (not all words are spelled correctly) excellent, very thourough and precise, nice job

The Downy Woodpecker


Downies take home in the United States and southern Canada. They have been recorded at elevations of up to 9,000 feet. The downies are not deep-forested birds, preferring deciduous trees. Open woodlands, river groves, orchards, swamps, farmland, and suburban backyards are all favorite haunts of the downy. Downies will also nest in city parks. About the only place you won't find them is deserts. The most attractive human dwelling sites are woodlands broken up by logged patches in a waterside area. Downies also enjoy open shrubbery with groves of young deciduous trees.


Like the hairy woodpecker, the downy beats a tattoo on a dry resonant tree branch. This drumming is the downy's song, though they do make some vocal noises. They have several single-syllable call notes which include tchick, an aggressive social note; a tick and a tkhirrr, which are alarm notes.

There is also a location call, known as a 'whinny', made up of a dozen or more tchicks all strung together.

Scientific Names

The downy woodpecker's scientific name is Picoides pubescens. There are also six particular downies with six particular scientific names all from different regions of the United States and southern Canada which I have listed below:

southern downy / Dryobates pubescens

Gairdner's woodpecker / Gairdneri pubescens

Batchelder's woodpecker / Leucurus pubescens

northern downy / Medianus pubescens

Nelson's downy / Nelsoni pubescens

willow woodpecker / Turati pubescens

The downy woodpecker is sometimes reffered to as 'little downy.'

Behavior Towards Humans

The downy is unquestionably the friendliest woodpecker. A bird lover in Wisconsin described downies at their feeding station: 'The downies will back down to the suet container on the basswood...