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Have you ever heard of the Hairy Woodpecker? Would you be able to spot this cheerful little bird? They can be found all over North America, but most especially in the United States. The Hairy Woodpecker is quite the musician, as he is known to play “drums” on trees or posts to attract a mate. Read on to learn more about this interesting little birds.

All About the Hairy Woodpecker

All throughout history, birds have captured our wonder. From Icarus to the Wright Brothers, humankind has been enamored with these winged creatures. However, many people cannot name an abundance of bird species. Most may know about the turkey because of Thanksgiving, or the pigeon from the city streets. Some may be able to identify a robin or a cardinal but there is a feathered world out that many never discover. Take for instance the hairy woodpecker, a charming little bird with a funny little name.

The hairy woodpecker is found in most of North America. If one were to look at a map of where the hairy woodpecker dwells, they would see that the entirety of the United States makes up the geographical range that the hairy woodpecker lives. As a matter of fact, the largest chunk of the hairy woodpecker populations can be found in the US. The hairy woodpecker can also be spotted in most of Canada and as well as a good part of Mexico. It should be noted that in North America the hairy woodpecker lives in mountainous regions as well as flatlands but in Central America, they are more likely in the mountainous regions.

If you’re fortunate enough to live where the hairy woodpecker is known to inhabit, then you can set out to make your yard more inviting. They are keen on dead or decaying trees but will hollow out a cavity in a live treat that has heart rot. They love to feed on black-oil sunflower seeds and peanut suet. You can set up a bird feeder to attract the hairy woodpecker, especially during winter when food is harder to find. Hairy woodpeckers will also eat insects, which can be very beneficial at controlling these pests.

Once you’ve made your yard inviting to the hairy woodpecker, what you can expect as far as their nesting and mating habits?

Usually, in late winter the male hairy woodpecker begins his search for a mate. He announces his presence by tapping on wood. These taps, or “drums” as they are called, are quick and evenly paced. The hairy woodpecker will tap for exactly 26 beats. This act of communication has two purposes; it tells the female hairy woodpecker that it is available and advises any male hairy woodpeckers that this “seat has been taken” so to speak. When nesting begins, the female hairy woodpecker will start to hollow out a tree.

This is usually done anywhere from a few feet to 40 feet off the ground. There she will build her nest and lay 3 to 6 eggs, The male hairy woodpecker is no slouch, however. He also participates in the incubation of the eggs. The male hairy woodpecker takes night duties tending to the eggs and in turn, the female hairy woodpecker takes the day shift.

She will sit on her eggs from sunrise to sunset. All in all, the hairy woodpecker incubation period is about two weeks. After they the eggs have hatched, the hatchlings are in the nest for about a month before they spread their wings and build a life of their own.

The hairy woodpecker looks very much like the downy woodpecker. In fact, the only real noticeable difference between the two is size. The hairy woodpecker is a little bigger than the downy woodpecker, by two inches. The appearance of the hairy woodpecker can vary from region to region. Mostly the birds have a white breast with black wings. The wings have white stripes along them. These stripes also appear on the sides of the head of the hairy woodpecker. For those in the Rocky Mountain region, the males will have a bright red crown. This will be absent in the female hairy woodpecker from the same region. In the Pacific Northwest, the hairy woodpecker is a light brown color where the white normally is. They are often referred to as” coffee-stained” which is also a fun in an ironic way since the area is also known for its coffee. The hairy woodpecker is considered an average-sized bird and is about the same size asa robin.

Thankfully, for those that want to see a hairy woodpecker, they are in no danger of becoming extinct. In fact, According to, the “population of hairy woodpeckers have increased since 1966 and 2015.” Of course, as With any birth population, there is always concern about over-development and what this could mean to their future. But as of right now, the birds are not endangered. This is wonderful news for bird enthusiasts and of course for hairy woodpeckers.

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