|Conservation status||Very common and widespread, with no evidence of population declines.|
|Habitat||Forests, woodlots, willows, river groves, orchards, shade trees. Found in wide variety of habitats, from wilderness areas to second-growth woods to suburban yards, but generally favors deciduous trees. In far north and in mountains (areas dominated by conifers), restricted to groves of deciduous trees such as aspens or willows.|
Can forage not only on trunks and major limbs of trees but also on minor branches and twigs (often climbing about acrobatically and hanging upside down), as well as on shrubs and weed stalks. Male and female forage differently at times, but this varies with place and season. Feeding on trees, does more tapping and excavating in winter, more gleaning from surface in summer.
4-5, sometimes 3-6. White. Incubation is by both sexes, about 12 days. Young: Both parents bring billfuls of insects to feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 20-25 days after hatching, may follow parents around for a few weeks thereafter. 1 brood per year, possibly 2 in south.
Both parents bring billfuls of insects to feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 20-25 days after hatching, may follow parents around for a few weeks thereafter. 1 brood per year, possibly 2 in south.
Mostly insects. Feeds on a variety of insects, especially beetles and ants, also gall wasps, caterpillars, others. Also eats seeds and berries. Will eat suet at bird feeders.
Male and female have separate feeding areas in fall and early winter, with pairs forming by late winter. Male and female take turns drumming loudly on dead limbs on their separate territories; male gradually approaches. Nest site is cavity (excavated by both sexes) in dead limb or dead tree, usually 12-30' above ground, sometimes 5-60'. Cavity entrance is often surrounded by fungus or lichen, helping to camouflage site.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Permanent resident in many areas, but northernmost populations may move some distance south in winter. Some birds from the Rockies and other western mountains may move down to valleys in winter, and may move short distance south as well.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for over 450 bird species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsA quiet pik. Also a descending rattle.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Downy Woodpecker
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Downy Woodpecker
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.