Description of the Hairy Woodpecker


The Hairy Woodpecker has a white back, black wings with white mottling, a black and white-striped face, and a black rump.

Males have a red patch at the rear of the crown.


hairy woodpecker


Females lack the red crown patch.


hairy woodpecker

Seasonal change in appearance



Juveniles are similar to adults, but have red foreheads.


Hairy Woodpeckers are found in a variety of forests and woodlands with mature trees.


Hairy Woodpeckers primarily eat insects.


The Hairy Woodpecker forages on tree trunks, bracing itself against the trunk with its stiff tail.


Hairy Woodpeckers occur across nearly all of the U.S., southern Canada, and parts of Mexico. Its population has increased in recent decades.

More information:

Bent Life History

Visit the Bent Life History for extensive additional information on the Hairy Woodpecker.

Wing Shape

The shape of a bird's wing is often an indication of its habits and behavior. Fast flying birds have long, pointed wings. Soaring birds have long, broad wings. Different songbirds will have a slightly different wing shape. Some species look so much alike (Empidonax flycatchers) that scientists sometimes use the length of specific feathers to confirm a species' identification.

Female, adults, above: eastern Washington, Apr.; below: western Washington, July

Wing images from the University of Puget Sound, Slater Museum of Natural History

Fun Facts

Hairy Woodpeckers do not forage on slender weed stalks or twigs they way Downy Woodpeckers often do, instead sticking to larger limbs and trees.

Courtship in Hairy Woodpeckers usually includes the pair drumming together in a duet.


The most common call is a loud, short "peek".


Will visit feeders for suet and peanuts.


The nest consists simply of wood chips in an excavated cavity in a dead limb or tree.

Number: Usually lay 4-6 eggs.
Color: White.

Incubation and fledging
The young hatch at about 11-15 days, and leave the nest in another 28-30 days, though continuing to associate with the adults for some time.