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What's that bird in my backyard?

Updated: Apr 22, 2020

Let’s put our spotlight on the downy woodpecker! This small (size is often described as between a sparrow and a robin), yet energetic woodpecker is a common backyard visitor to feeders here in Western New York where it stays all year long. Look for the black and white markings on the bird’s wings with black and white striping on the head. Males also have a small red spot on the back of the head…and this is the best way to tell the male and female apart. One of its characteristic sounds is a high pitch “pik” sound, often made while the bird is perched. The downy is typically a little more shy and can be seen “hiding” behind a feeder or tree trunk as other birds fly in and out of the area.

If you have suet feeders in your yard or have a lot of trees, more than likely you have either seen or heard downy woodpeckers in your area, as that cute “pik” sound can be hard to miss! As mentioned, the downy woodpecker can be attracted to your backyard with suet but will also visit black oil sunflower seed and peanut feeders for a quick snack. Also, if you have trees on your property be sure to watch for downy woodpeckers foraging up and down the trunk and branches in search for insects or places to store food.

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