Bent Life History of the Hairy Woodpecker

Published by the Smithsonian Institution between the 1920s and the 1950s, the Bent life history series of monographs provide an often colorful description of the birds of North America. Arthur Cleveland Bent was the lead author for the series. The Bent series is a great resource and often includes quotes from early American Ornithologists, including Audubon, Townsend, Wilson, Sutton and many others.

Bent Life History for the Hairy Woodpecker - the common name and sub-species reflect the nomenclature in use at the time the description was written.



The hairy woodpecker, with its various subspecies, ranges throughout practically all the timbered regions in North America, but the type race, the subject of this sketch, is confined, during the breeding season at least, to the transition and Upper Austral Zones of Northeastern United States and extreme southern Canada.

In the region where I am most familiar with it, southern New England, it is not an abundant bird at any season, quite rare in summer and oftener seen in winter. It is essentially a retiring, forest-loving bird, being found with us in summer in the dry deciduous woods, or occasionally in rural districts in old orchards near the borders of wooded areas, in winter, it is given more to wandering into villages and towns, or may be seen even in the shade trees in larger cities.

I remember having found it only twice in swampy woods, hut Dr. George M. Sutton (1928b), in his paper on the birds of Pymatuning Swamp, Crawford County, Pa., says: "The hairy woodpecker occurs only rarely in the higher deciduous woods outside the borders of Pymatuning during the nesting season, but it is abundant everywhere ill the wooded Swamp, and in the restricted area, closely examined in 1922, was considered one of the most numerous species."

Courtship: Francis H. Allen has sent me the following notes on this subject: "The courtship dance consists of a weaving motion of the head, as with the flicker, accompanied by a high-pitched ch'weech, ch"weeclu, eh'weech, repeated over and over vociferously. The note is much like that of the flicker, but higher-pitched and more rapidly delivered. Three and sometimes four birds may be seen so engaged together, but I have no observation as to the sexes. In quiet intervals in courtship, the head is held with bill parallel with the axis of the body, not at right angles as in feeding."

Edward H. Forbush (1927) writes:

On bright March days this bird begins to practise what is either a love song, a challenge, a call to its mate, or all combined. This is no vocal music hut instead a loud drumadug on some resonant dead tree, branch, or pole. This long roll or tattoo is louder than that of the (lowny woodpecker, not quite so long, and with a slightly greater interval between each succeeding stroke. It takes a practiced ear, however, to distinguish between the drumming of these two species. In courtship the male chases the female from tree to tree with coaxing calls, and there is much dodging f,hout among the branches and bowing 10 each other before the union is consummated.

Rex Brasher (1926) writes:

Seated under a cluster of small maples, one day In early May, I watched the interesting courting antics of the pair. The jaunty male's favorite position was one in which he appeared to be almost standing on his tall. With bill upright, wings thrown forward, and tail wide-spread he repeated over and over what was undoubtedly intended for a love-song, a series of notes divided between chuckles and whistles. But the strangest, most mystifying performance was a series of backward drops on the under side of a limb Inclined about forty-five degrees. * Why didn't the little acrobat fall when he released his claws? Studying his movements carefully through the binoculars, I came to the conclusion that at the instant of releasing his grip he jerked his body toward the limb with sufficient Impetus to catch the bark six inches or so below.

Lewis 0. Shelley says in his notes: "I have watched the act of copulation of the hairy woodpecker and noted its dissimilarity to the downy. For the hairy invariably instills a follow-up procedure to the display, the male coming to her call and, soon thereafter, hopping up the branch toward her with a short jerking movement, in which he calls wick-up, wick-up, wick-up, wings agitating, this immediately followed by copulation."

Nesting: The hairy woodpecker is rather rare, as a breeding bird, in my home territory in southeastern Massachusetts, but I have the records of 12 local nests. It shows a decided preference for deciduous woodlands, six of the nests being in dry, upland woods and two in maple swamps; of the other four nests, three were in apple orchards, close to extensive woodlots, and the fourth was in a small, living, red maple in a swampy meadow, some distance from any woods. The birds showed no decided preference for any one species of tree; three nests each were found in maples and apple trees, two each in chestnuts and poplars, and one each in a dead oak and a dead beech. Only four nests were in dead trees or dead branches; the others were all in living hardwoods. The heights from the ground varied from 5 feet in a dead poplar stub to 30 feet, or more, in tall chestnuts or maples. The entrance to the nesting cavity often appears nearly, or quite, circular, but on careful measurement will usually be shown to be more or less elliptical, higher than broad; a typical entrance hole that I measured was 17/s high by 1½ inches wide. The depth of the cavity was found to vary from 10 to 12 inches, but Mr. Shelley (1933) measured one that was 15 inches deep, and even deeper holes have been reported. Owen Durfee's notes give some very careful measurements of two of our local nests, one of which is worth quoting as showing an unusually elliptical entrance: "The entrance to the nest was on the northeast side of the trunk of a live chestnut and 22½ feet from the ground. The tree leaned toward the east about 2 feet. At the butt it was 9 inches in diaxueter and at the opening about 6½ inches. The opening had the usual elongated appearance, 2% high by 17/s inches wide. The top of the hole went straight in across the cavity for 4 1/2 inches, the bottom edge of the opening slanting up 3/4 of an inch while going in 1'/~ inches. Then the cavity went nearly straight down below the hole for 12 inches, enlarging only a trifle, so that the base was about ~'/2 inches in diameter. The s~xell of the tree was only about 7/~ inch thick on one side but on the other was 2 inches thick."

Dr. Sutton (1928b) says of the nests in Pymatuning Swamp, Pa.: "The cavities were drilled near the tops of dead trees which nearly always stood in water. It was impossible to climb many of them because their bases were weak; but the clamoring of the young birds could be heard some distance away. On May 30, 1922, I located six nests within a half hour by watching the parent birds and listening for the young. * * * The twenty-six nests averaged roughly over thirty feet from the ground."

T. E. McMullen mentions in his notes a Pennsylvania nest that was 50 feet from the ground in a large maple in some woods. J. Claire Wood (1905) reports some very high nests in Michigan; one was in the "trunk of very large barkless dead elm about 50 feet above ground"; another was in the trunk of a "dead beech 55 feet up and just under a large limb."

The female probably selects the nesting site, but both sexes work alternately at the labor of excavating the cavity. This work requires one to three weeks, depending on how hard the wood is; a cavity in the soft wood of a poplar, which is a favorite with this species in some localities, might be excavated in a very short time, but I have known a pair to take over three weeks to excavate a nest in a hard maple; the trunk of a living tree may have a soft center, and some of the birds seem to be clever enough to select such a tree. A new nest may often be recognized by the presence of fresh chips on the ground around the tree, as the birds are not very particular about removing them.

The male sometimes digs out another shallower hole near the nesting tree, which he uses as a sleeping place. Usually a fresh hole is made each season, but I have seen occupied holes that were very much weathered, as if they had been occupied for more than one season; in such cases, the cavity may be deepened somewhat and the bottom covered with fresh chips. I once found a pair of these woodpeckers excavating their domicile, which they later abandoned, as I found on a later visit that the hole was partly full of water and sap. They are not always successful in their first attempt, for this and other reasons, and may have to start two or three holes before they find just the conditions they want. The eggs are laid on a soft bed of fresh chips at the bottom of the cavity and are usually half buried in it; no nesting material is carried in.

Eggs: The hairy woodpecker lays three to six eggs, but four seems to be the commonest number. The eggs vary in shape from oval to elliptical-oval, usually more nearly oval. The shell is smooth and often quite glossy. The color is pure white, but in fresh eggs the yolk shows through the translucent shell, giving the egg a beautiful orange-pink color. The measurements of 47 eggs average 23.81 by 18.04 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure 29.50 by 18.80, 28.70 by 18.90, and 20.57 by 16.26 millimeters.

Young: Only one brood is raised in a season, but, if the nest is robbed, the female will lay a second set after an interval of 12 or 14 days, and sometimes even a third set; often subsequent layings may .be in the same nest hole.

Bendire (1895) says:

The duties of ixicubatien are divided between the sexes and last al)ont two weeks. The yonng when first ha trued are repalsive-looking erca turns, blind arid naked, with enormonsly huge heads, and ugly protnberances at the base of the bill, resembling a reptile mere than a bird. They are totally helpless for some Anys, and can not stand; bnt they snen learn to climb. rfliey are fed by the parents by regurgitation of their fend, which is tbe nsnal way in which the yonng of most Woodpeckers are fed when first batched. * * * The young remain in the nest about three weeks. When distorbed they ntter a low, purring noise, which renimninls me soniewliat of that mnatle by bees when swarm: ng, and when a little older they utter a soft pnirr, pnirr.' Even after leaving the nest they are assidnonsly cared for l)y both parents for several weeks, until able to provide for themselves.

Plumages: The young hairy, like all other young woodpeckers, is hatched naked, and the juvenal plumage is assumed while in the nest, so that xvhen the young birds emerge they are fully fledged. In the juvenal plumage the sexes are sometimes much alike, though oftener there is a decided difference. In both sexes the bill is decidedly smaller, xveaker, and more pointed than in the adult; the color pattern is almost exactly like that of the adult, but the plumage rs softer and fluffier; the white markings are more or less tinged with yellowish, the two inner primaries are dwarfed, and the innermost white tail feather is usually tipped with black. The colored markings in the crowns of both sexes are very variable in color and in extent. L. L. Snyder (1923) has made a careful study of the crown markings of young hairy and downy woodpeckers of both sexes. lie found that 90 l)ercenl of the yotlng male bairies had more or less red, pinkish, or yellowish markings in the crowns, and only about 14 percent of the young flnales were so marked. But only 10 percent of the young males and about 43 percent of the young females had white markings only on a black crown; and about 43 percent of the young females had the entire crown black. There is great individual variation in the amnotint aird in the distribution of these colors; the white spots are often mixed with the other colors; the reddish and yellowish colors may invade nearly the whole crown, exist in one or two large patches, or appear on only a few scattered feathers.

The juvenal plumage is worn but a short time; the molt into the first winter plumage is accomplished between July and October. This first winter plumage is much like that of the adult in both sexes, but the white spots are not quite so pure white, and the red nuchal patch of the male is duller and often interrupted. Adults have a complete postnuptial molt in August and September and perhaps a partial prenuptial molt in spring.

Food: Various studies of the food habits of the hairy woodpeckers show that these birds are among our most useful bird.s and especially valuable as protectors of our forest and shade trees and orchards. More than 75 percent of their food consists of injurious insects, while the amount of useful insects and cultivated fruits that they destroy is insignificant. Prof. F. E. L. Beal (1911) has published the most exhaustive report on this subject, based on the study of 382 stomachs collected during every month in the year and from many parts of the range of the species, including practically all of the races. He says: "In the first analysis the food divides into 77.67 percent of animal matter and 22.33 of vegetable. The animal food consists of insects, xvith a few spiders and millepeds; the vegetable part is made lip of fruit, seeds, and a number of miscellaneous substances." Of the animal food, he says: "The largest item in the annual diet of the hairy woodpecker consists of the larvae of cerambycid and buprestid beetles, with a few lucanids and perhaps some other wood borers. These insects constitute over 31 percent of tile food and are eaten in every month of the year. * * * One stomach contained 100 of these larvae and 83 and 50, respectively, were taken from two others. Of the 382 stomachs, 204, or 53 l)ercent, containe(l these grubs, and 27 of them held no other food. Other beetles amount to a little more than 9 percent."

Ants rank second in importance, amounting to a little more than 17 percent, and are taken every month in the year; other Ilymenoptera are eaten in vcry small quantities and irregularly. Caterpillars are the next most important item, many of them wood-boring species, amounting to a little less than 10 percent. "Prof. F. M. Webster states that lie has seen a hairy woodpecker successfully peck a hole through the parchment-like covering of the cocoon of a Cecropia moth and devour the contents. On examining more than 20 cocoons in a grove of box elders, he found only 2 uninjured," according to Professor Beal (1911), who adds that bugs (Hemiptera) and plant lice (aphids) form only a small part of tile food, and says: "Orthoptera, that is, grasshoppers, crickets, and cockroaches, are rarely eaten by the hairy. A few eggs, probably those of tree crickets, and the egg cases (odtheca) of cockroaches, constitute the bulk of this food. These with a few miscellaneous insects amount to a little more than 2 percent for the year. Spiders with their cocoons of eggs, including one jointed spider (Solpugidae), and a few millepeds, were eaten to the extent of about .3.5 percent, which completes the quota of animal food."

He says further:

The vegetable food of the hairy woodpecker may be considered under four beads: Fruit, grain, seeds, and miscellaneous vegetable substances. Fruit amounts to 5.22 percent of the food, and was contained in 54 stomachs, of which 13 held what was diagnosed as domestic varieties, and 41 contained wild species. Rubus seeds (blackberries or raspberries) were identified in 4 stomachs, and were counted as domestic fruit, but it Is perhaps more probable that they were wild. * * * Of wild fruit 18 species were identified. It constitutes the great bulk of the fruit eaten, and is nearly all of varieties not useful to man.

Corn was the only grain discovered in the food. It was found in 10 stomachs, and amounted to 1.37 percent. * * * The seed of poison ivy and poison sumac (Rhas rodicans and it. vernix) were found in 17 stomachs, and as they usually pass through the alimentary canal uninjured, the birds do some harm by scattering the seeds of these noxious plants. * * * Cambium, or the inner bark of trees, was identified in 23 stomachs. Evidently the hairy does but little damage by denuding trees of their bark. Mast, made up of acorns, hazelnuts, and heechnuts, was found in 50 stomachs. It was mostly taken in the fall and winter months, and appears to be quite a favorite food during the cooler part of the year.

Illustrating the quantities of insects eaten by individual birds, F. H. King (1883), Wisconsin, writes: "Of twenty-one specimens examined, eleven had eaten fifty-two wood-boring larvae; five, thirteen geometrid caterpillars; ten, one~ hundred and five ants; six, ten beetles; two, two cockroaches; two, nine o6theca of cockroaches; two, two moths; one, a small snail; one, green corn; one, a wild cherry; and one, red elder berries. * * * One of the above birds had in its stomach eleven wood-boring larvae (Lamides?) and twelve geometers; another, thirteen larvae of long-horn beetles and four cockroach odthcca; another, nine wood-boring larvae; and two others together had three wood-boring larvae, and nine larvae not coleopterous."

V. A. Alderson (1890) published the following interesting note: "Last summer, potato bugs covered every patch of potatoes in Marathon County, (being my home county,) Wis. One of my friends here, found his patch an exception, and therefore took pains to find the reason, and observed a hairy woodpecker, making frequent visits to the potato field and going from there to a large pine stub a little distance away.

"After observing this for about six weeks, he made a visit to the pine stub and found, on inspection, a large hole in its side about fifteen feet up. He took his axe and cut down the stub, split it open, and found inside, over two bushels of bugs. All had their heads off and bodies intact."

The woodpecker's method of locating tree-boring larvae and its specialized apparatus for extracting them are so well described by Dr. Thomas S. Roberts (1932) that I cannot do better than to quote him, as follows:

The hairy woodpecker possesses in its tongue one of the most remarkably developed and perfectly adapted instruments for extracting the tree larvae from their tunnels. The tip is a rigid, barbed spear and can be thrust out to an astonishing distance by reason of greatly elongated, posterior horns which pass up over the back and top of the head and run together down in front of the right eye, around which they are coiled for almost the entire circumference of the socket! So that, the drilling into the tunnel accomplished, the tongue darts out, the inner ends uncoil, the spear transfixes the grub, and with little ado the larva is dragged from its retreat into the bill of the bird, pounded perhaps for a moment or two, swallowed forthwith or carried to the young, and this most perfectly contrived and highly efficient engine is once more ready for action. There has been considerable discussion as to how the woodpeckers locate the larvae, active or dormant, which are hidden deeply in the wood and for which they drill so unerringly. All the special senses of hirds are very highly developed, and it seems probable that In this case hearing, touch, and smell all may play a part. The active grub, as it crunches the wood, makes a sound that would surely be audible to a bird with its keen sense of hearing. The tunnel produces a cavity which would give both a different sound and feeling on tapping over it. Such things as grubs have a strong odor, and It is probable that this plays a part also.

Forbush (1927) says: "Maurice Thompson asserts that the hairy woodpecker strikes its bill into the wood and then holds the point of one mandible for a moment in the dent thus made. He believes that the vibrations produced by the insect in the wood are then conveyed through the beak and skull of the bird to its brain."

In winter this woodpecker comes readily to suet or meat bones hung up on our trees or feeding stations to attract birds. It is also said to feed on the carcasses of animals left in the woods by trappers or hunters and to pick the fat from fresh skins that the trapper has hung up to dry. Although often called a sapsucker, there is practically no evidence that it ever does any injury to trees in this way; any sap or cambium eaten is probably taken incidentally in its search for insects.

Behavior: The hairy woodpecker is a much shier, more retiring bird than the confiding little downy; it is also more active and noisier; it usually will not allow such close approach but will dodge around the trunk of a tree or fly away, if an intruder comes too near, bounding through the air in a series of graceful dips and rebounds. Rex Brasher (1926) followed one for four hours that alighted "on two hundred and eighteen different trees, an average of nearly one a minute! The longest time he remained on one tree was seven minutes. This was a dead chestnut with most of the bark still adhering. By far the larger proportion of the trees were old chestnuts, and under their loosely attached covering he found most successful hunting. Rough-bark species were preferred: chestnuts, oaks, old maples and hickories, about in the order named. Smooth-barked ones received little notice."

Dr. Morris Gibbs (1902) says: "Have my readers carefully watched a Woodpecker leave its perch on the trunk or limb? The bird throws itself backward from its vertical position by a leg spring, together with a tail movement, turns in the air in the fraction of a second and is sweeping away to the next perch. Arriving at the next resting place it makes a single counteracting stroke of the wings against the air, and perches lightly on the bark of limb or trunk."

Like all woodpeckers, the hairy is an expert climber, perfectly at home on the trunk of a tree, or even on the under side of a branch, where its strong claws enable it to cling in almost any position or to move about with astonishing rapidity and skill in any direction. Its stiff tail feathers act as a prop and help to support it while hammering away at the bark with its pow-erful beak. Forbush (1927) says that it "is the embodiment of sturdy energy and persistent industry. Active, cheerful, ever busy, its life of arduous toil brings but one reward, a liberal sustenance. It sometimes spends nearly an hour of hard labor in digging out a single borer, but commonly reaches the object of its quest in much less time."

Voice: The ordinary call of the hairy woodpecker is louder and shriller than that of the downy. Francis H. Allen says, in his notes, that it bears "about the same relation to it as the solitary sandpiper's peet-weet does to that of the spotted sandpiper. I hear it most frequently from the female. In fact, a female of the species that visits my place at all times of the year often utters this note continually, as if calling for a mate or claiming territory, but she never nests very near."

Bendire (1895) describes its ordinary note as "a shrill, rattling note, triji, triii;" and again as several loud notes uttered on the wing, like huip, hu4. Forbusli (1927) calls the ordinary note "a high, sharp, rather metallic chink or click." Aretas A. Saunders (1929) ïsays: "The call is a loud 'keep,' like that of the downy woodpecker, but louder. Another call is a lond rattle, suggesting that of the Kingfisher, but slurring down the scale. Another call. 'kuweek kuweek kuweek kuxveek,' is used during the mating season, and suggests the Flicker's 'oweeka.'" Field marks: The hairy woodpecker is a large edition of the downy woodpecker, a black and white woodpecker, white beloxv and black above, spotted with white on the wings. and with a broad white stripe doxvn the center of the back. Only the male has the red patch on the back of the neck. It can be distinguished from the downy by its much larger size, its more restless behavior, its relatively longer and larger bill, and by the lateral tail feathers, which are pure white in the hairy and somewhat barred with black in the downy.

Enemies: B. T. Gault, in his notes from Marshall County, Ill., states: "The hairy woodpecker is now a very rare breeder here owing to the fact that the English sparrow appropriates almost every nest hole as soon as it is excavated. I once saw one of these sparrows enter the hole of one of these birds, take a newly hatched bird out. in its bill, flutter for an instant over the water (the nest was in a dead willow snag standing in the overflowed Illinois River bottoms), and drop the young bird into the water to drown. It then returned into the nest and soon appeared with another newly hatched woodpecker in its bill. As it fluttered over the water for an instant, my gun cracked and the sparrow died."

Verdi Burtch (1923) writes: "April 16, 1922, when in a thin wood I heard a female hairy woodpecker making a great fuss as they do when one invades the vicinity of their nest. As I neared the place I saw the nest hole about twenty feet up in an elm stub. About ten feet away, sitting erect on a limb of another tree, was a red squirrel eating something that it held in its fore-paws. My 8-power binoculars showed this to be a naked baby bird, presumably a hairy woodpecker and not more than two or three days old."

Mr. Shelley (1933) tells of a pair of hairy woodpeckers that were twice, in the same season, driven out of their nest by starlings and their eggs destroyed.

Fall: The hairy woodpecker has often been said to be a permanent resident on its breeding grounds, but this is not strictly true. The species may be present all through the year over much of its range, but there is evidence to indicate a general southward movement in fall; the individuals seen in winter are probably not the same as those seen in summer. Moreover, there is a noticeable increase in numbers in certain localities in winter.

Lewis 0. Shelley has sent me some full notes on the migration of hairy woodpeckers, as he has observed it near East Westmoreland, N. H., from which I quote as follows: "For four years I have watched, in the autumn months, passing hairies that go through, some dropping down into the valley to feed as they go along, but others passing over the valley from hill to hill (2 miles) without stopping. In passing through, they traverse in general the same route each year. They come from an eastern and continue on in a western direction at an oblique angle to the Connecticut River, which they must cross in the vicinity of Brattleboro, Vt.

"These migrants usually appear here late in August or early in September and continue to arrive at irregular intervals until late in October. It is common for one, or two, rarely more, to pass together; but such occurrences have happened, as on October 24, 1934, when, beginning soon after noon and lasting until four o'clock, the birds continued to pass through. At least 12 were seen as I walked up a roadway parallel to their course; and other moving birds were heard. It was also noticed that they kept spaced 40 to 50 yards apart, keeping abreast of one another, traversing in a leisurely manner; and as they approached a rock maple woods, the tendency was to close in like passing through the neck of a bottle and, once throogh the woods, again to spread out. Their progress was rather fast; and they fed little, if at all. '[hey often called, as though to locate each other, since they were keeping about 40 yards apart, as was easily noted when they crossed pasture and mowing land.

"I followed and watched in particular a male that continued keeping along ahead of jne. lie repeatedly crossed the road in a zigzag manner. Climbing to the top of a fence post or stump, he made lengthy observations, probably noting the progress of the other birds, and often answered their ringing calls. He, as well as the others, gave the appearance of a stranger in a new environment, truly a migrant. I noted how low the birds were passing, quite frequently flying not over 2 feet from the ground over open spaces, where long, bounding flights were made."

L. McI. Terrill told Mr. Forbush (1927) that the few local breeding birds disappear from the vicinity of Montreal early in autumn, and others, in a very noticeable wave, appear toxvard the end of October or early in Noveniber.

Winter: Aside from tb e regular migratory movements, the hairy woodpecker is much more given to wandering about in winter. It is apt to forsake its woodland haunts and travel about in search of food, coming frequently into the farmer's orchard, into rural villages, and even into thickly settled communities in some of our larger cities. Here it often joins the merry parties at our winter feeding stations, feeding readily on the suet or scraps of meat provided for our insect-eating birds; and here the smaller birds show due respect for its larger size, or perhaps for its formidable beak, and it is usually allowed to eat alone. It seems to be a solitary bird at this season, for we seldom see more than one at a time. I find it not so constant and regular a visitor to my feeding station as the downy woodpecker and some other birds; it probably wanders about more.

Mr. Forbush (1927) writes: "During the inclement season it is said to require a sheltered place in which to sleep and, like the downy woodpecker, to excavate a hole in a tree for a sleeping chamber, but there is evidence that it does not always seek such shelter, as the late Charles E. Bailey and myself watched one for several winter evenings in a grove, clinging upright against a tree trunk in the usual woodpecker position. Night after night, the bird was there at dusk, remained there until dark, and was there also at daybreak each morning in precisely the same place."

Joseph J. Hickey tells me that, around the lower Hudson River Valley in winter, woodpeckers obtain much of their food by deliberately scaling the bark off trees in search for their insect food. The Arctic three-toed woodpeckers work mainly on pines and hemlocks, but the hairies appear to confine their work to the hemlocks, using the same methods as the three-toed.

Range: Northern and Central America; not regularly migratory. The range of the hairy woodpecker extends north to Alaska (Kenai Peninsula, Fairbanks, and Fort Eghert) ; Yukon (Forty Mile, Fort Reliance, and Macmillan River) ; Mackenzie (Fort Wrigley, Lake Hardisty, and Fort Resolution); northern Saskatchewan (mouth of the Charlot River and Poplar Point); northern Manitoba (Grand Rapids, probably Fort Churchill, and probably York Factory); Ontario (Hat Island and Cobalt); Quebec (Blue Sea Lake, Quebec City, Godbout, Eskimo Bay, and Anticosti Island) ; and Newfoundland (Nicholsville and Raleigh). From this point the range extends southward along the Atlantic coast to southern Florida (Eau Gallie); the western Bahama Islands (Great Bahama, Abaco, and Andros); and Panama (Boquete). The southern boundary of the range extends westward from Panama (Boquete); Nicaragua (San Rafael) ; western Guatemala (Tecpam) ; Chiapas (San Cristohal) to Guerrero (Chilpancingo and Omilteme). From this point, northward through the mountains of western Mexico, northern Baja California (Sierra San Pedro Martir and Sierra Juarez) ; and the coastal (listricts of California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, to Alaska (Chilkoot, Chitina Moraine, and the Kenai Peninsula).

As outlined, the range is for the entire species, which has, however, been so divided that no less than 13 subspecies are currently recognized as occupying the range north of Mexico, while still others occur in Central American countries. The typical eastern hairy woodpecker (D. v. villosus), occurs in the Eastern United States and southern Canada west to Manitoba, North Dakota, and Colorado and south to North Caralina and central Texas. The northern hairy woodpecker (D. v. septentrionalis) occupies the zone to the north, from southeastern Quebec, northwestward to western Mackenzie, Yukon, and central Alaska. The Newfoundland woodpecker (D. ~'. terraenovae) is found only on the island of that name. The southern hairy woodpecker (D. v. audubo'ni) occupies the southeastern part of the range from Missouri, Illinois, and western Virginia south to southeastern Texas and southern Florida. The Sitka hairy woodpecker (D. v. sitkeusi-s) is found in southeastern Alaska and northern British Columbia. The Queen Charlotte woodpecker (D. ix picoiclews) is found only on the group of islands of that name off the coast of British Columbia. Harris's woodpecker (D. v. harrisi) occupies the coastal regions of southern British Columbia south to northwestern California. Cabanis's woodpecker (N. v. hylosco pus) is confined to certain coastal and mountain areas of California, chiefly in the southern part. The Lower California hairy woodpecker (V. v. .vcrippsae) is restricted to the Sierra Juarez and the Sierra San Pedro Martir of Baja California. The Modoc woodpecker (P. ix onus) is found in the Sierra Nevada of central California north to Oregon and Washington and east to Nevada. The Rocky Mountain hairy woodpecker (V. 'mx rnonticoia) is found through the Rocky Mountain region from central British Columbia south to northern New Mexico and east (in winter) to western South Dakota and Nebraska. The white-breasted woodpecker (V. v. leucotlmorectis) is found chiefly in Arizona and Nexv Mexico but also east to central Texas and north to southern Utah. The Chihuahua woodpecker (V. v. icastus) occurs principally in western Mexico but occurs also in southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico.

Migration: As stated above, the hairy woodpeckers are generally nonmigratory and may be found in midwinter even in the northern parts of their range, as Alaska, Mackenzie (Fort Simpson), and Manitoba (Aweme, Minnedosa, and Roseau River). Nevertheless, some individuals are given to a certain amount of wandering during the winter months, which explains the occasional records of some subspecies far outside of their normal range. There also is more or less vertical migration in the mountainous regions of the north and west, the birds descending into the lower valleys during the winter season. This is noted particularly in the Rocky Mountain form, which in winter has been taken east to Nebraska and South Dakota.

Despite the fact that during the past 18 years several hundred individuals of this species have been marked with numbered bands, and many have been subsequently recaptured, there is no evidence that any of these moved at any time more than a few miles from the point of banding.

Egg dates: British Columbia: 8 records, April 27 to June 24.

California: 43 records, March 23 to June 21; 22 records, April 28 to May 29, indicating the height of the season.

Colorado: 10 records, May 5 to June 18. Florida: 18 records, April 10 to May 16; 9 records, April 22 to 28. Illinois: 8 records, May 1 to 23.

Iowa: S records, April 21 to May 15. Labrador: 5 records, May 26 to 30.

Massachusetts: 17 records, May 1 to June 5; 9 records, May 10 to 19. Ontario: 8 records, May 6 to June 16.


This large northern race of the hairy woodpecker inhabits the Canadian Zone of northern North America, north almost to the limit of trees, from central Alaska and northern Canada southward. In the eastern portions of southern Canada it intergrades with typical vi1108u8, and in northwestern Montana with qnonticola, where the ranges of these races meet. Specimens have been taken as far north as Fort Simpson, on the Mackenzie River, in latitude 620 N., and at Fort Reliance, on the upper Yukon River, Alaska, in about latitude 660 N. It may occur as a straggler farther north, where it can find sufficient tree growth, but it is said to be rare north of latitude 56~ N., and apparently it does not reach the Arctic coast or the coast of Bering Sea. It is a decidedly larger bird than typical villosus, the white markings average rather larger, and the white is purer. In the southern portion of its range, where it begins to intergrade with viilosus, these characters are, of course, less pronounced and many individuals are difficult to name.

Living in a region over much of which coniferous forests predominate, this woodpecker frequents and breeds in this type of forest. Winton and Donald Weydemeyer (1928) say that it is an abundant permanent resident in Lincoln County, Mont., where it intergrades with monticola. They also say:

In the valleys it Is most nmnerous, during sununer, in forests containing a large percentage stand of western larch (Larix occidental(s). The next trees in attractiveness seem to he Douglas fir (Pscedotsega taxifolie), western yellow pine (Pines pondcrosa), and Engelmann spruce (Picea engclmanai), in the order named. In the Hudsonian zone it frequents trees of white-bark pine (Pinus elbicaulis) and alpine larch (Let-tx lye flit). The species is noticeably rare or absent in forests containing nearly pure stands of western white pine (Plans monticola), arborvitae (Thu in piteata), or lodgepole pine (Pines contorte), except where the woods have been logged or injured by fire.

Nesting: The same observers say: "In Lincoln County this species uses a wide variety of nesting sites. Of eight nests included in our records, three were in live aspens; one in a live cottonwood; one in a live larch; one in a dead larch, one in a dead Douglas fir; and one in a woodpecker nesting box."

Ernest Thompson Seton (1890) found a nest in a tall poplar tree about 30 feet from the ground, in Manitoba; the hole was about a foot deep, 3 inches wide inside and 2 inches at the entrance. John Macoun (1909) quotes Rev. C. J. Young as saying: "Most of the nests I have seen have been in wet places or near water, and almost all were in white ash trees, from thirty to fifty feet from the ground. Two nests were in elm trees and one in a telegraph pole by the roadside not more than ten feet from the ground."

Roderick MacFarlane (1908) writes: "On the 6th of May, 1885, Mr. Reid discovered a nest in a hole in a dry standing poplar tree near Fort Providence. There were eight eggs therein, and the parent was seen and shot. * * * At Fort St. James, Stuart's Lake, on the 25th of May, 1889. a native hunter found a nest holding four fresh eggs in a similar position. Both parents in this instance were also observed near by and shot. On 4th June, in the same locality, an Indian girl brought us four eggs. * * * The nest was found in a hole in a dry pine tree, at a height of several feet above the ground."

Henry Mousley (1916) says that near Hatley, Quebec, "as a rule the nest hole is somewhat high up but on one occasion I found one which was only three feet above the ground in a birch stub, containing four eggs, the entrance hole being two inches in diameter, extreme depth eleven inches and average width two and three quarters lnches."

P. B. Philipp and B. S. Bowdish (1919), referring to northern New Brunswick, say: "A nest with young was found in a dead maple stub in a burnt barren, on May 29, 1917. On May 30 of the same year another nest about fifteen feet up in a dead maple stub in a similar situation, contained four eggs, very slightly incubated. On June 9, 1917, a third nest in a cedar telephone pole beside a public road was examined. It was at a height of about nine feet; cavity 14½ inches deep; entrance 2'/~ inches in height by 21,4 inches in width. This nest contained four nearly fresh eggs."

Eggs: The northern hairy woodpecker lays three to five eggs; the eight eggs mentioned above by MacFarlane may have been the product of two females or eggs of the boreal flicker; in the latter case the collector may have shot the wrong parent. The eggs are like those of the eastern hairy woodpecker but average slightly larger. The measurements of 41 eggs average 25.39 by 20.10 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure 28.45 by 22.10, 27.43 by 22.35, and 21.5 by 16.6 millimeters.

The plumage changes, food, behavior, voice, and other habits apparently do not differ materially from those of its southern relative. It is said to be a permanent resident throughout its range, but there is probably some southward migrat.ion or wandering from at least the northern portion of its range and perhaps from the southern parts also. That some individuals remain far north in winter is shown by the fact that the Fort Simpson specimen was taken on December 29, 1860. The Weydemeyers (1928) say that during winter, in northwestern Montana, "this woodpecker is commonly found in mixed broad-leaf and conifer associations along streams, but it is most abundant at that season in the larch woods of the valleys."


In the Lower Austral Zone of the South Atlantic and Gulf States we find this small race of the hairy woodpecker. In addition to being decidedly smaller than its northern relative, the white of the under parts is less pure, and the white markings of the upper parts are somewhat smaller.

Arthur H. Howell (1932) says of its haunts in Florida: "The southern hairy woodpecker, though not particularly shy, prefers the wilder sections for its home. It occurs in a variety of situations: the open pine forests, oak hammocks, and the hardwoods of the deep river swamps. The birds are of a rather solitary disposition, and rarely is more than a single bird or a pair found near together."

Nesting: Mr. Howell (1932) says that "the nests are located 12 to 45 feet from the ground in holes excavated in dead oaks or willow stubs, or in cypresses growing on the edge of a swamp." S. A. Grimes (1932) says: "A nest thirty feet up in a live cypress near Eastport [Florida] held three eggs on April 13. Two well feathered young were found in a hole fifteen feet up in a dead sweet gum in southern Duval County on May 13. A nest eight feet up in a pine stub in northern St. Johns County contained three heavily incubated eggs on May 11."

Arthur T. Wayne (1910) says that in South Carolina "the nest is very hard to find; indeed I have found but six nests, two which contained eggs, and four which contained young. I have known this species to excavate a hole and raise a brood in a limb of a living live oak tree, but it generally excavates its hole in a dead tree and at a great height. A set of three fresh eggs was taken April '1, 1898, from a hole 40 feet from the ground in a dead pine. This hole was 14 inches deep. The young remain in the hole for more than a month after they are hatched."

Harold H. Bailey (1913) says that in Virginia "dead ,tubs of gum and poplar treetops seem to be their favorite location for a nesting site, varying from 25 to 00 feet up, the cavity from eight to twelve inches deep. They are one of our earliest breeding birds, the drilling of the nesting cavity beginning the last week in March, and by April 10th to 15th finds a full complement or set of eggs, numbering from four to six."

J. G. Suthard writes to me of a nest he found near Madisonville, Ky. The cavity was "excavated in a dead crab apple stub in open woodland. Only the female was observed excavating the hole and caring for the eggs, which proved to be infertile. No male was ever observed near the nesting stub, though it was carefully observed." M. C. Vaiden tells me of a nest 9 feet up in a chinaberry tree in a yard at Rosedale, Miss., and another that was 23 feet up in a pecan tree and 3 feet out in a dead snag.

Eggs: The southern hairy woodpecker is said to lay three to six eggs. The latter number must be unusual, as the set generally consists of three or four eggs. The eggs are scarcely distinguishable from those of other hairy woodpeckers, though they average somewhat smaller than those of the more northern races. The measurements of 42 eggs average 21.29 by 18.29 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure 26.1 by 19.2, 25.8 by 19.8, 21 by 19, and 23.8 by 16.6 millimeters.

Food: Major Bendire (1895) says that this subspecies seems to be fonder of fruit and berries than are the northern races and that "the young are fed largely on figs." Audubon (1842) says that in the salt marshes about the mouths of the Mississippi "it alights against the stalks of the largest and tallest reeds, and perforates them as it is wont to bore into trees. * * * J have often observed it clinging to the stalks of the sugar-cane, boring them, and apparently greatly enjoying the sweet juices of that plant; and when I have seen it,in severe winter weather, attempting to bore the dried stalks of maize, I have thought it expected to find in them something equally pleasing to its taste."

Milton P. Skinner (1928) says of these birds, in the sandhills of North Carolina: "In winter the hairy woodpeckers vary their diet of insects with various berries and dried wild fruits. They are particularly fond of the small black berries of the sour gum (Nyssci .silvatica). Soon after the early frosts the birds flock to these swamp trees and feast as long as the berries last."

The main food supply of thu and other woodpeckers consists of insects and their larvae, which are obtained by searching in the crevices in the bark of whatever trees are available, or drilling into the trunks and branches to find the grubs. Mr. Skinner (1928) saw one working on "a charred and dead stub of a shrub oak. Here it worked steadily for fifteen minutes pulling out small white grubs and borers. It drove its bill for three or four strokes up under a bit of bark and then pried the bark off with its bill as a lever. Then it attacked the semi-rotten wood so uncovered, directly. It did not seem to work so fast as a downy woodpecker, but then it was so busy eating grubs that it did not have to dig much."

Behavior: The same observer says:

They do not show a preference for any one kind of tree but are found on both living and dead shrub oaks, long-leafed tines, loblolly pine, sycamore, sour gum and sweet gum. They work on toth trunks and limbs hut usually at low heights, from the ground up to twenty feet above. On a vertical surface these birds work up, spiraling it and tapping it as they go. They move hy a series of short hops, propping themselves each time with their tails. When hopping lightly along a horizontal limb they still use their tails as props. Perhaps their most astonishing feat is to spiral horizontal limbs, and to cling beneath them and hammer them with their backs down. Sometimes they work their way up to the very tip of slender shoots.

Even in a heavy wind they cling to the violentl7 swaying twigs while eating, l)ut they stay only a short time before flying to a tree trunk to perch and rest aefore trying it again. * * *

The flight of these birds is strong and undulating, with fast beating wings, nnd generally only from one tree to the next. Where the trees are not very close together, they swoop down to within a fexv feet of the ground and then fly with nearly level flight until they glide up to their next stopping place. Where they have to fly out across intervening open fields their flight becomes more undulatory, at times deeply so.


The range of this well-marked subspecies is now restricted to the humid coast belt from southern British Columbia southward to Humboldt County, Calif. In 1895, Bendire wrote:

Until within the last few years all the Hairy Woodpeckers from the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific coast have been considered as belonging to this subspecies. * * *

The breeding range of this race, as now considered, is a very limited one, and is probably coextensive with its geographical distribution. It is apparently confined to the immediate vicinity of the coast, and is not found at any great distance inland. Among the specimens collected by me at Fort Kiamath, Oregon (mostly winter birds), there are two which might be called intermediates between this and the more recently separated Dryo totes vlllosus kyloscopus, hut the majority are clearly referable to the latter. In the typical Harris's woodpecker the under parts are much darker, a smoky brown, in fact; it is also somewhat larger and very readily distinguishable from the much lighter-colored and somewhat smaller Cabanis's woodpecker.

Dawson and Bowles (1909) say: "Doctor Cooper judged the Harris to be the most abundant Woodpecker in Western Washington; and this, with the possible exception of the Flicker (Colap tea eafer saturatior), is still true. The bird ventures well out upon the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains, and is found sparingly in the higher mountain valleys; but its favorite resorts are burns and the edges of clearings, rather than the depths of the woods."

Johnson A. Neff (1928) quotes Dr. I. N. Gabrielson as saying: "The Harris woodpecker is found throughout western Oregon from the western slope of the Cascades to the coast, altho in the Rogue River Valley some specimens which are close to 'onus' have been taken. I have one labeled 'onus' by Dr. H. C. Oberholser, also have typical Harris from this district, so that this is probably the region of inter-gradation between these two forms."

Harris's woodpecker, like many other races of the humid Northwest coast region, is darkly colored, one of the most easily recognized of all the hairy woodpeckers. Even in Audubon's day it was recognized, described, figured, and named by him in honor of his friend Edward Harris. Ridgway (1914) describes it as "similar to D. v. hylosco pus, but under parts (including lateral rectrices) light drab or buffy drab-gray, instead of white or nearly white, the head-stripes and stripe on back also usually more or less suffused with the same color, often uniformly light drab; average size slightly larger."

Courtship: Theed Pearse (1934) gives us the following interesting description of the courtship display of this woodpecker:

There were two males on the limb of a small cedar and my attention was first drawn to them by their note, which is very similar to the flicker's "wickety" note but softer, and might almost be described as '~caressingly soft." Both birds were calling.

The displaying bird would draw in its head so that no neck was apparent, with beak pointed outwards and upwards and would then slowly swing the upper part of the body from side to side, thereby bringing into play the red nape marking. Once the bird very rapidly lifted its wings into an upright position, at other times there was a quivering flicking motion of the wings as they lay against the sides.

The two birds flew to another branch, settling side by side and instantly each froze, the neck drawn In and the beak pointed upwards. They were perched sideways on the branch and were displaying the white markings in the tail which each of them would slightly spread and turn out (to one side). The feathers of the back were at the same time hunched up as though to show up the white markings there also. They did this several times before flying off together.

Nesting: Although this is evidently a common bird within its restricted range, surprisingly little has appeared in print regarding its nesting habits. Authentic eggs seem to be very rare in collections; most of the eggs in collections, of which I have the records, that are labeled harrisi, prove to be referable to one of the neighboring subspecies.

D. E. Brown writes to me:

Its nesting cavities may be at any height from 4 feet to well over 100 feet from the ground. I found a nest 8 feet up in an 8-inch dead fir stub in a dry open locality. The female flushed from the nest, and the date was just right for fresh eggs, May 6. The cavity was carefully opened. It was 16 inches deep and contained a single egg. This egg was so fresh and the shell so clear that the yolk could be plainly seen. The cavity was carefully repaired with hark from the stub, held In place with black thread. Both birds were near all this tIme, complaining loudly. I returned in five days. The bark was still in place, but the egg was gone. The dust from the decaying stub, where the egg had been, was very dry, and I am of the opinion that the parent bird had removed the egg.

G. D. Sprot has seIlt me a beautiful photograph (pl. 4) of a nesting site of this woodpecker in a dead alder stump in a coniferous forest clearing, near Mill Bay, Vancouver Island, taken May 23, 1928.

Dawson and Bowles (1909) say:

The nest of this bird is usually placed well up in a small dead fir tree In some burn or slashing on dry ground. It is about ten inches deep and has no lining save fine chips, among which the crystal white eggs, four or five in number, lie partially imbedded. Incubation is begun from the last week in April to the last week in May, according to altitude, and but one brood is raised in a season. These Woodpeckers are exceptionally valiant in defense of their young, the male in particular becoming alniost beside himself with rage at the appearance of all enemy near the home nest.

S. F. Rathbun sends me the following note on a Harris's woodpecker that made an attempt to dig a nesting hole in a slnall young fir topped about 10 feet up: "The tree had been cut off so that it could be used as one of the supports of a cross piece to which a swing was attached. The woodpecker began to dig a hole in the topped upright, and the owner of the place called me up and wanted to know what the bird was and what it was up to. I told him all about it and suggested that he keep away from the stub. Two weeks later, I asked him how the bird was getting on. He said at first the bird was busy digging away every day, but of late seemed to have something the matter with it, for 'lately every day it just sat with its head sticking out of the hole and did no work on it.' I cut a piece from the edge of the entrance and quickly found out. When the crossbar for the swing had been nailed to the sapling, a 10-inch spike was used to hold it; and this had gone nearly through the sapling. The woodpecker ran into this spike, as it was digging the hole, after progressing 6 inches or so downward. It did not seem able to go around the spike, although it had enlarged the cavity an inch on each side of the heavy nail and had cut away the wood for 2 inches or more, below the spike. But the job proved to be too much for the bird, and it eventually gave tip and disappeared. I told my friend to pull the spike and maybe next year the bird would be back. He followed my suggestion, and, the following spring, a Harris's woodpecker showed up, dug a hole in the stub, and raised its young. This was repeated the next spring after, and then no return of the bird. So quite likely it may have been the same woodpecker."

Eggs: Harris's woodpecker apparently lays four or five eggs, probably seldom fewer or more. Bendire (1895) was evidently unable to locate any properly identified eggs of this race, and I have not fared much better. The eggs are probably indistinguishable from the eggs of other hairy woodpeckers of similar size. The measuremcnts of 34 eggs average 25.29 by 18.91 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure 27.9 by 19.6, 25.46 by 20.32, 22.86 by 18.29, and 23.5 by 17.5 millimeters.

Food: J. A. Neff (1928) says:

A total of 57 stomachs of hairy woodpeckers were taken for the present study, over three fourths of them of the Harris type. The months were represented by fairly even numbers of specimens. Analysis of these stomachs shows a considerable variation from the results of Professor Real's California studies. The total animal food averaged 82.00 percent, while vegetable matter made up the other 18.00 percent * * *

The larvae of wood-boring beetles, Cerambycids and Jluprestids, composed 49.00 percent of the total. This total Is unexceeded In Federal studies of birds. Since these two groups of borers include species doing enormous damage to both forest and ornamental trees, as well as to orchards, this item of food alone almost settles the question of the utility of having woodpeckers. C * *

The vegetable food was of little value economically. Fruits, of small wild varieties, totaled 6.00 percent, and seeds, mostly of coniferous trees, averaged 1200 percent

Behavior: Taylor and Shaw (1927) made the following interesting observation:

As Is well known, western Washington is a region of copious rainfall. During the frequent dowupours one can not help speculating en the manner in which the different birds and mammals avoid injury from the damp and chill of the storm. The thick foliage of firs and hemlocks Is well suited, In many instances, to serve as a thatched roof: and in the deep woods there are many big branches and large logs under which birds: and mammals too: find dry retreats. During the heaviest rain of the summer a Harris woodpecker was frightened from Its shelter beneath a huge log in the heavy forest of Tahoma Creek Canyon. Here the bird was keeping perfectly dry. One can Imagine its displeasure at being driven out from Its comfortable refuge Into the drenching rain.

Winter: D. FL Brown says in his notes: "Early in fall Harris's woodpecker very often excavates a cavity that is its winter home. It can be found there every night and quite often in the daytime on stormy days. It is not always secure in this retreat. Such a cavity was made in a partly dead stub, about 20 feet high, just back of my house. Frequent visits were made to find out how much the nest was used. At first the bird, a male, would fly to a nearby tree when I rapped on the stub, but soon it contented itself with just coming to the opening. One time, while I was in plain sight of the stub, a western pileated woodpecker alighted at the cavity and proceeded to open it up, which it did clear to the bottom in less than three minutes. It had taken the Harris about a week to dig it out."

Dawson and Bowles (1909) say: "The Harris woodpecker visits the winter troupes only in a patronizing way. He is far too restless and independent to be counted a constant member of any little gossip club, and, except briefly during the mating season and in the family circle, he is rarely to be seen in the company of his own kind."


The hairy woodpeckers of the coast district of California from Mendocino County southward, the mountains of southern California, and the southern Sierra Nevada, as far east as 'White Mountains of California, are now known by the above name. This race is somewhat smaller than harz~i and decidedly smaller than oriud, its neighboring races to the northward; its under parts are much lighter colored than in harrisi; these parts are described by Ridgway (1914) as "dull grayish or brownish white or pale drab-grayish or buffy grayish." This and the Sierra woodpecker (oriu~) seem to form connecting links between the dark-breasted harrisi and the whitebreasted Rocky Mountain forms, monticola and leucothorectis, both of which are decidedly larger also.

Dr. Joseph Grinnell (1908) says of the distribution of this woodpecker in the San Bernardino Mountains in southern California: "This was the most widely distributed species of woodpecker in the region, occurring throughout the timbered portions, irrespective of zones. It was common from Santa Ana Cafion to the summit of Sugarloaf, 9,800 feet, and nearly to timber line on San Gorgonio peak. On the desert side the species was noted as low as Cactus Flat, 6,000 feet, where one was seen in some golden oaks in a ravine, August 16, 1905."

Courtship: The drumming of woodpeckers in the spring on some resonant limb or tree trunk is an important part of the courtship urge, as a warning to any rival, or as a call to a possible mate. Dr. Grinnell (1908) shows how the manner of drumming may also serve as a recognition call; he says: "The resonant rattling drum identified this species from any other of this region. Near Dry lake, 0,000 feet altitude, dead tamarack pines were selected for this purpose, and on June 23, 1905, I listened for many minutes to a remarkable demonstration of this kind. Different branches were tattoed in rapid succession, so that a xylophone-like variety of tones was produced, very impressive and far-carrying through the otherwise quiet forest."

ATesting: Major Bendiro (1895) writes:

In California Cahanis' Woodpecker is conunon in the mountains, but in the lowlands in the southern part of this State Mr. F. Stephens considers it a rather rare summer resident He found it breeding In a cottonwood tree, near San Bernardino, on March 21, 1885. Mr. Lyman Belding took several nests of this subspecies in Calaveras County, in the Sierra Nevadas; in one, found on June 0, 1879, which had been excavated in a dead pine stump, 12 feet from the ground, the eggs, three in number, were on the point of batching. In his notes he says: "I scared the female from it and prevented her retain by inserting a stick, the end of which protruded for several feet. When she found she could not enter she gave several cries, which brought the male, who hopped up and down the stick a few times, striking it with his bill and screaming angrily, pausing occasionally, and apparently deliberating on the best method of extracting it." Another rest, found by him on July 10, 1880, was located only 8 feet from the ground, and containcd young which were still in the nest on the 26th. Mr. Charles A. Alien informs me that along the Sacramento River, In California, it breeds In sycamores and willo~vs, but that it is not common there.

Eggs: Major Bendire (1895) says:

The number of eggs laid to a set varies from three to six; those of four are by far the most common; sets of five are only occasionally met with, while sets of six are very unusual. * * * The eggs lie on the fine chips left In the bottom of the cavity, and are occasionally well packed into these, so that only about one-half of the egg is visible. They resemble the eggs of Dryobatcs villosus in color, but those of an elliptical ovate shape are more common than the oval and elliptical ovals, averaging, therefore, more In length, while there Is proportionally less difference in their short diameter.

The measurements of 23 eggs average 24.49 by 18.38 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure 25.7 by 18.2, 24.2 by 19.7, 22.8 by 18.1, and 24.9 by 16.5 millimeters.

Young: Mrs. Irene G. Wheelock (1904) says: "Both sexes share the labors of excavating, brooding the eggs, and feeding the young. Incubation lasts about fifteen days, and the young remain nearly four weeks in the nest, being fed most of that time by regurgitation. After leaving they are fed by the parents for at least two weeks, and usually return to the nest at night to sleep."

Food: W. Leon Dawson (1923) writes: "Nearly half of the Cabanis Woodpecker's food consists of the larvae of wood-boring beetles (the Cerarnbycidae and Buprestidae) ; and of the remainder the caterpillars of various injurious moths form a large per cent. Wild raspberries and blackberries are eaten in summer, and certain hardy fruits, such as cornel berries, acorns, and the pits of the islay, or evergreen cherry (Prunus ilicijolia), eke out the winter sustenance."

Referring to its manner of feeding, Milton P. Skinner says in his notes: "On August 10, 1933, I saw a Cabanis working on both the trunk and the limbs of a small Douglas fir. It worked all around a horizontal limb and really seemed to be under the limb more than above. It also worked on upright branches as well. I have also seen a Cabanis feeding on the bark of a lodgepole pine. One day 1 found one on a dead black oak, scaling off dead bark to get at tbe insects beneath. So far as I can tell, these birds, in the Sequoia National Park, seem to prefer to pick food from the surface and furrows in the bark, and do not bore into the bark and wood as much as other woodpeckers. During my work among the Big Trees, I noticed that these birds seem to avoid the sequoia's bark; but at one place I found a living tree with many holes bored in the old wood of its charred basc, where it was unprotected by bark."

Behavior: Mr. Skinner's notes say that "this woodpecker has quite a few mannerisms of its own. One, seen flying across a meadow, went first to the limbs of Douglas firs, tben to a small dead limb of a sequoia, then to the limb of a fir, and then to the trunk of the same fir. It perched lengthwise of limb and trunk each time. And this procedure was followed again and again on different days. Usually the Cabanis perches crosswise on a horizontal limb, especially when resting or preening, but lengthwise on erect, or nearly erect, trunks and limbs when feeding.

"Although this woodpecker almost always flies to the exact spot it selects, its flight through the forest is undulatory. The undulations are due to the fact that it progresses by a series of wing beats. At the end of each series, it seems to actually close its wings and shoot forward with the impetus gained."


This large, white-breasted hairy woodpecker inhabits the Rocky Mountain region, in the Canadian and Transition Zones, from central British Columbia and Montana s6uthward to eastern Utah and northern New Mexico, and eastward to western South Dakota and western Nebraska. Ridgway (1914) characterizes it as "similar, in large size and whiteness of under parts, to P. v. septentrionalis, but with white spots on wing-coverts much reduced in size or number, or altogether wanting." It evidently intergrades with septentrionalis in Montana and Wyoming and probably with the more western races west of the Rocky Mountains.

Milton P. Skinner tells me that in the Yellowstone National Park it "occurs at all elevations from the lowest at 5,500 feet to timberline at 9,500 feet above sea level, but never far from a tree of sdme kind. It is a resident bird here but moves down from the mountain heights at the approach of winter."

Aretas A. Saunders (1921) says of its status in Montana: "A common permanent resident throughout the western half of the state in the mountains. Winters mainly in the valleys in cottonwood groves, but does not breed there. * * * The eastern limits of its range are evidently in the eastern foothills of the mountains. Just what form breeds in the more eastern mountain ranges is not definitely determined. In the mountains this bird has been recorded by all observers. It is common everywhere, and usually the commonest of the mountain woodpeckers."

Nesting: The following remarks by Major Bendire (1895), nuder hylosco pus, evidently refer to this subspecies: "Mr. Denis Gale found it breeding in Boulder County, Colorado, on May 28, 1886, in a live aspen tree, at an altitude of about 8,500 feet. TIm nest contained five eggs, in which incubation was somewhat advanced. Mr. William G. Smith also reports it as common in Colorado, coming down into the valleys in winter. He says it is the earliest of the Woodpeckers to breed, that it commences nesting in the latter part of April, and usually excavates its holes in old dead pines, frequently at a considerable distance from the ground, and that he has seen full-grown young by June 1."

J. K. Jensen (1923) says of this woodpecker, in northern Santa Fe County, N. Mex.:

Quite common in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, from 8,000 to 11,000 feet. June 21, 1920, I found a nest thirty feet up in a large quaking aspen. This tree stands on the edge of a place where an avalanche has plowed its way down through the timber on the mountain side, depositing trees and rocks in a great heap for hundreds of feet around the tree. The nest contained young, and judging from the noise they made, were quite well developed. The parent birds were very noisy.

May 22, 1921, I made my way through four feet of snow to the same tree. A new nest had beet made, and the female flew off when I was about 150 feet away. I cut Into the nest and found a set of four eggs on which incubation had just commenced. The altitude at this point is 11,000 feet. May 26, 1922, I found a nest with young about seventy-five feet up in an aspen. This was in Santa Fe Canyon at an altitude of 8,000 feet.

Eggs: The eggs of the Rocky Mountain hairy woodpecker are SlIflilar to the eggs of other hairy woodpeckers of similar size. The measurements of 83 eggs average 24.89 by 18.49 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure 28.08 by 18.03, 27.0 by 20.1, 23.37 by 17.78, and 24.38 by 17.27 millimeters.

Food: Mr. Skinner says, in his notes, that this woodpecker "seeks its food on the trunks of lodgepole and flexiiis pines, cedars, firs, aspens, willows, and even electric-light and telephone poles; it prefers dead and diseased trees and stubs to work on, probably because of more borers and grubs. At Basin, and over 7,000 feet elevation, I found a female where I could watch her, only 5 feet away from the lodgepole trunk on which she was working. She worked down, tapping here and there as she went. Whenever a tap revealed a borer, she scaled off the bark with quick right and left strokes, having a slight lever motion at the end, and always secured from one to six bark-borer grubs. Evidently the tap told her whether it was worth while to search further, for she never made a mistake and performed no useless labor."

S. A. Munro (1930) writes: "During the winter of 1928: 29 a male hairy woodpecker frequently was seen feeding on Virginia creeper berries in competition with several red-shafted flickers. On one occasion the same bird visited an apple tree, attracted by a few apples that still clung to the bare branches. Standing crossways on a branch, in the ordinary position of a perching bird, he rapidly stabbed his bill downward into the top of an apple. After doing this several times he flew to another portion of the tree and repeated the performance."


Dr. Wilfred H. Osgood (1901) described the hairy woodpecker of the Queen Charlotte Islands, as a full species, Dryobates picoideus. lIe says it can be distinguished from all other members of the villosus group by the black markings on the back and characterizes it as ~Csimilar in general to Dryobates 'a. harrisi; bill slightly smaller; middle of back barred and spotted with black; flanks streaked with black." He says that this woodpecker is not abundant on the islands; during a period of over a month spent in active collecting he saw only six, all of which were collected.

I cannot find that anything has been published on the habits of the Queen Charlotte woodpecker, which probably do not differ essentially from those of harrisi, to which it is closely relatedï and which inhabits a similar, humid coast environment. There are a number of skins of this race in various collections, but, so far as I know, no authentic eggs have ever found their way into any American collection. Very little exploration has been done in the interior of the Queen Charlotte Islands, and we know very little about the habits of its birds.


Charles F. Batchelder (1908), who discovered and described this race of the hairy woodpecker, characterized it as: Similar to typical Dryobates villosus, but slightly larger, the black areas of the upper parts increased, the white areas reduced both in number and in size, especially in the remiges and wing coverts. * * Dryobatcs viflosus tcrrecnovae is much smaller than D. ,,. leucomelas, and is, of course, even more remote from it in coloring than from true vWosus. Between it and D. v. hyloscopus and B. V. monticola there is a striking resemblance in coloring, but the wide area----occupled throughout its extent either by villosus or by leucomela s: that Intervenes between the ranges of these two Western subspecies and that of terracnovac, precludcs the possibility of immediate intergradation, while the utter dissimilarity of the climatic conditions of their respective habitats forbids the supposition that like causes in environment have developed like characters; apparently this is a case where suporficial resemblances have arisen entirely Independently of climatic influences.

I found the Newfoundland woodpecker fairly common in the heavily timbered valleys of the Fox Island and Sandy Rivers in Newfoundland in 1912. The timber in the flat river bottom and on the islands in the Fox Island River is almost wholly made up of deciduous trees, mainly poplar, canoe birch, ash, mountain ash (which grows to a very large size), and alder, mixed with a few spruces. On the surrounding hillsides the forest growth consists mainly of firs and spruces, with plenty of canoe and yellow birches, poplars, larches, and mountain ashes. The Sandy River runs through a fairly level and heavily timbered region, with forests of large firs, red, white, and black spruces, mixed with some birches and poplars. These two regions were the only places where we found this and the downy woodpecker, nesting in the deciduous trees. It has been observed by others in other places, and doubtless it occurs wherever there is heavy timber, with a fair sprinkling of deciduous trees, mainly along the streams and about the shores of lakes.

I can find nothing noted on its habits that is in any way different from those of the other eastern races. So far as I know, its eggs have never been taken.



The hairy woodpeckers of the Canadian and Transition Zones in the mountains of northwestern Mexico, southern Arizona, and southern New Mexico are referable to this race. In describing and flaming it, Dr. H. C. Oberholser (1911a) characterized it as "similar to Dryobates villoaus hyloscopu8, but bill much smaller, and wing slightly longer. * * * This bird is decidedly smaller than Dryobates Vi1108U8 leucothoreotis, as well as noticeably smoky-tinged on the under surface, instead of pure white; and it is in size so very much inferior to Dryobates villosus onus, that it is readily distinguishable."

Harry S. Swarth (1904) says of the haunts of this woodpecker in the Huachuca Mountains, Arizona: "Fairly abundant in the higher parts of the mountains, from 7,000 feet upward. They may be seen almost anywhere in that region, but for breeding purposes, seem to particularly favor the dense thickets of quaking asp." In 1922, Frank C. Willard and I found them breeding mainly among the tall pines near the summit of these mountains, above 7,500 feet. From here to the summit, about 9,000 feet, the land is rolling, mostly in gentle slopes, and covered with a fine, open, parklike forest of tall pines of two or three species, many of them from 80 to 100 feet high. The many dead, standing trees and stumps offered suitable nesting sites for pygmy nuthatches, Mexican creepers, and Chihuahua woodpeckers. We did not see any of these woodpeckers in the spruce and fir belt, below 7,000 feet.

Nesting: On May 7, 1922, in the pine region near the summit of the Huachuca Mountains, described above, we located two pairs of Chihuahua woodpeckers and saw some new excavations in the dead pine stubs, in which they seemed to be preparing to nest, but they evidently had not yet laid their eggs. On May 15 we returned and found two of the nests occupied (p1. 6). The first nest was about 40 feet from the ground in a dead pine stub at an elevation of about 7,900 feet; the cavity was about 15 inches deep and contained four fresh eggs. Farther up, near the summit, at about 8,500 feet, we found the second nest; this was only about 15 feet up in a large dead pine, in a hole we had previously passed by as an old one; but we saw the female enter the hole and stay there, so we chopped it out and found three heavily incubated eggs in a cavity about 12 inches deep. Frank C. Willard (1918) tells of a pair of these woodpeckers that "had nested for several seasons in the dead top of a tall pine. One winter, this broke off and lodged in the top of an adjoining pine. Even with their nest site in this apparently insecure position the woodpeckers were unwilling to leave it, and their new nest was found dug in the same old tree top in its inverted position."

Eggs: The eggs of the Chihuahua woodpecker do not differ materially from those of other hairy woodpeckers of similar size. The measurements of three eggs in the author's collection are 24.6 by 17.2, 24.5 by 17.7, and 24.6 by 18.0 millimeters.

Winter: Mr. Swarth (1904) says: "They do not seem to remain through the winter months; at any rate I saw none during February, 1903 nor did any appear until March 17, when I secured two and saw one other. Ten days later they were quite abundant. The winter of 1902: 1903 was quite cold, with a great deal of snow on the ground, and it is possible that with a milder winter they might remain the year through. Thereï does not seem to be any vertical migration on the part of this woodpecker, for I saw none below 7,000 feet, and but very few as low as that." Bendire (1895), however, writes: "In southern Arizona it does not appear to breed in the lower valleys, but I have shot several near Tucson in winter."


In the coast region of southeastern Alaska and northern British Columbia we find a race that Harry S. Swarth (1911b) says, in describing and naming it, "differs from D. v. harrisi mainly in the very much paler, less smoky hue of the lower parts, and the more buffy coloration of the nasal tufts. Somewhat like D. v. picoideus, but paler colored below, and lacking the barred rectrices of that race." He says elsewhere (1922)

Sitkensis, in its relatively light ventral coloration, Is Intermediate between the extremely dark harrisi and the white-breasted rnonticola. The dark-breasted type of coloration reaches its extreme development in picoidcus of the Queen Charlotte Islands, interposed between the ranges of harrisi and sitkensis. Thus, while specimens of sithensie as hid out in trays may be arranged to illustrate a step between harrisi and ,nonticola, the geographical distribution of the several forms Is not in accordance with this idea. The geographical chains appear to lie as follows: Starting with the white-breasted races of the interior of the northwest, septeatrionalis and monticbla, there is an extension westward on the coast of a slightly darker breasted race, sitkensis. Starting again with the dark breasted type, harrisi, of the Puget Sound region, and going aorthward, we reach the extremely dark colored picoidcus. Thus, sitkcnsis and 1&arnei are really far apart genetically, and the appearance of .sitkensis as a seeming intergrade between tnouticohr and harrisi must be explained on grounds other than those of such actual intermediate relationship. Sitk-cns is, as an offshoot of the white-breasted type of the interior, may have arrived at the humid coast at too recent date to be yet affected by its surroundings to the citent that harrisi and picoidcus have been; or it may be more resistant to such an environment. In either case the slight modification of the clear white breast of m&nticola produced by the humid surroundings would result in an apparent intergrade toward harrisi.

On the habits of this subspecies, which probably do not differ materially from those of other hairy woodpeckers, I can find only the following brief comment by Joseph Dixon, quoted by Dr. Joseph Grinnell (1909) "At the three lakes back of Mole Harbor I saw more of these birds than at all other places put together. Their slow drumming sounded so similar to the clicking of a telegraph instrument that we dubbed them 'telegraph woodpeckers' to distinguish them from the sapsuckers." So far as I know, the nest of this woodpecker has never been reported. It is probably resident throughout its breeding range.


This race of the hairy woodpecker occupies a rather extensive range in the interior of California, Oregon, and Washington, west of the range of nionticola in the Rocky Mountains, north of the range of hylosco pus in southern California, and east of the range of harri&i in the above States. As might be expected, it is more or less intermediate in size or coloration between the surrounding races. Dr. H. C. Oberholser (1911a), who described and named it, characterized it as "resembling Dryobates villosus leucotltorectis, but larger; lower parts usually brownish white, instead of pure white."

Grinnell and Storer (1924) say of its haunts in the Yosemite region: "As with most of the allied forms, the present race ranges through several life zones, from the scattered digger pineS at Pleasant Valley eastward through the main forest belt to the sparse tracts of Jeffrey pines in the vicinity of Mono Lake. It is nowhere really comlnon, even for a woodpecker; it reaches its greatest numbers in the upper part of the Transition Zone and in the Canadian Zone."

In the Lassen Peak region, according to Grinnell, Dixon, and Linsdale (1930), "this woodpecker foraged over the trunks and larger limbs of many kinds of trees both in the forests proper and where there were a few trees or restricted tracts of trees in the mainly unforested parts of the section. Much of each bird's time was spent on coniferous trees, either living or dead ones, but nesting excavations were many of them in trunks of deciduous trees."

Bendire (1895) says that, at Fort Kiamath, Greg., "it appears to be especially abundant in tracts in which the timber has been killed by fire, and where many of the slowly rotting trunks still remain standing. Such burnings are frequently met with in the mountains, and seem to attract several species of Woodpeckers, presumably on account of the abundance of suitable food to be found."

Courtship: Grinnell and Storer (1924) say: "At Chinquapin, on May 19, 1919, a pair of these woodpeckers was seen going through their courting antics. A male was in a large yellow pine at the edge of a logged-over area, calling almost incessantly. His usual speenk had become spenk-ter-te'r-ter, a staccato run repeated every few seconds. The female answered in like voice but uttered the trill less often. The male changed his location many times, and after protracted calling on his part, the female flew to the same tree."

Nesting: Bendire (1895) writes:

I took my first nest near Camp flarney, Oregon, on May 29, 1875, in a canyon on the southern slopes of the Blue Mountains, at an altitude of about 5,000 feet. The cavity was excavated in the mnin trunk of a nearly dead aspen, about 12 feet from the ground. The entrance hole was about 1% inches in diameter, and the cavity about 9 inches deep. It contained four much incubated eggs. The female was in the hole, and stayed there looking out until I. had struck the tree several times with a hatchet, when she flew off and alighted on one of the limbs of the tree, uttering cries of distress, which brought the male, who was still more demonstrative, hopping from limb to limb, squealing and scolding at me and pecking at the limbs on which he perched. At Fort Kiamath, Oregon, it was somewhat more common, and here 1 took several of its nests. * * Dead o badly decayed trees are preferred to live ones for nesting purposes, and deciduous trees to conifers; it also nests occasioflally in firs and madrone trees.

Milton P. Skinner says, in his notes, that "in the Yosemite National Park, one nested in a living willow trunk about ten feet above the ground." Grinnell, Dixon, and Linsdale (1930) say that, in the Lassen Peak region, "~pens and cottonwoods, dead at core, seemed to be preferred nesting trees, although other kinds were also used. Nest holes, when in conifers, were made in dead and decaying trunks or stubs."

Eggs: Three or four eggs make up the usual set for this woodpecker. They are indistinguishable from the eggs of other hairy woodpeckers, though Bendire (1895) says that "those of an elliptical ovate shape are more common than the oval and elliptical ovals." The measurements of 15 eggs average 24.70 by 18.80 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure 26.4 by 20.6 and 21.5 by 16.2 millimeters.

Young: Grinnell, Dixon, and Linsdale (1930) write: "Near Eagle Lake Resort on June 12, 1929, an adult was feeding a nestful of young woodpeckers in a cavity three meters up in a yellow-pine stub close to the lake. The nest hole had been freshly cut. Only the female was seen to carry food. The young were large enough to be fed without the parent entirely entering the cavity. ïWhen the observer walked near the nest stub the parent became much excited and flew about calling loudly for several minutes. The young birds called when the parent came with food."

Food: Grinnell and Storer (1924) say:

The Modoc Woodpecker forages on both evergreen and deciduous trees, favoring the latter, perhaps, during the winter months. In summer it is usually rather quiet, particularly so as compared with the noisy California Woodpecker. It gains much of its food In the outer portions of the bark, where a few strokes of moderate intensity enable It to secure any insect or grub living near the surface of the tree.

At the margin of the forest above Coulterville, May 31, 1915, a Modoc Woodpecker was seen foraging in a yellow pine. The tree in question had recently been killed by the boring beetles which were common In the western forests that year. The woodpecker was going over the tree in systematic manner, working out and in along one branch, thea ascending the trunk to the next branch where It would repeat the performance. The bird was flaking off the outer layers of the bark without much evident expenditure of effort, for Uttle noise of tapping was heard; It was feeding presumably on the boring beetles or their larvae.

Bendire (1895) writes: "It is one of our most active Woodpeckers, always busy searching for food, which consists principally of injurious larv~ and eggs of insects, varied occasionally with a diet of small berries and seeds, and in winter sometimes of pifion nuts, pine seeds, and acorns. At this season I have often seen this species around slaughter houses, picking up stray bits of meat or fat, and have also seen it pecking at haunches of venison hung up in t.he open air.~~ Behavior: Mr. Skinner says, in his notes, that "the Modoc hairy seems very unsociable. One that was feeding on a cottonwood chased a visiting red-breasted sapsucker away from that tree to another, and then from tree to tree. But, when a California woodpecker came to its tree, the Modoc hairy promptly flew away."

Voice: Major Bendire (1895) says that this woodpecker is very noisy, especially in the early spring. It likewise is a great drummer, and utters a variety of notes, some of which sound like 'kick-kick, whitoo, whitoo, whit-whit, wi-wi-wi-wi,' and a hoarse guttural one, somewhat like 'kheak-kheak' or 'khack-khack'."


Laurence NI. lliiev (1927) who described and named this woodpecker, characterized it as "similar to Dryobates villosus hylosco pus Cabanis and Heine, but decidedly smaller. In fully adult birds, the dusky white of the breast extends farther down on the breast than does that on examples from the northern mountains." lie gives, as its range, "the pine clad slopes of the Sierra Juarez and Sierra San Pedro Martir, Lower California, Mexico. * * * The range of this southern race does not extend north of the International Boundary, as specimens examined from the mountains of San Diego County, California, are in no way inclined toward the race D. v. scrippsae, but are counterparts of typical D. 'v. hylosco pus from the northern localities. In fact, the only variation that could point toward a 'blending' is found in the Sierra Juarez birds, but their average falls so near that of the birds from the Sierra San Pedro Martir that the name proposed herewith should apply."

This southern race probably does not differ materially in its habits from other hairy woodpeckers, except in so far as it is affected by its environment.


Northward and eastward from the range of the Chihuahua woodpecker (icastus) and southward from the range of the Rocky Mountain hairy woodpecker (monticola) lies the range of this whitebreasted race of the hairy woodpecker, extending from southern Utah, through Arizona and New Mexico, into central western Texas. It is evidently a smaller edition of monticola, for Dr. Harry C. Oberholser (1911a),in describing and naming it, says that it is "much like Dryo~atcs villosus monticola, but decidedly smaller; wing c,overts practically always without white spots."

Dr. Edgar A. Mearns (1890b) says of its haunts in the mountains of northern Arizona:

Breeds commonly throughomit the pine belt, often ascending higher in summer, then preferring aspens to the fir and spruce woods of higher altitudes. It very rarely descends to the cottonwoods of the Verde Valley to fraternize with its smaller relative, Baird's woodpecker, and only when the mountaim timber is icy or the weather uncommonly fierce; then It is usually accompanied hy flocks of Cassin's Purple Finches, Red-backed Juncos, and its boon companions, the Slender-billed Nuthatches. About the middle of June the young leave their nests, and soon after make a partial migration downward towards the lower border of the pine belt, in common with many other birds that breed at high levels.

Nesting: I can find no references to the nesting habits or eggs of this subspecies, which probably do not differ materially from those of the Chihuahua woodpecker, except that J. S. Ligon told Mrs. Florence M. Bailey (1928) that it nests "generally in small trees in canyon beds."

Eggs: The eggs of this subspecies are apparently similar to those of other hairy woodpeckers. They seem to be scarce in collections; I have been able to locate only two sets of eggs, one set of four and one set of three. These seven eggs show average measurements of ~4.66 by 17.91 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure 23.3 by 18.2, 24.6 by 18.6, 24.2 by 18.2, and 24.6 by 17.2 millimeters.

Food: Mrs. Bailey (1928) quotes Maj. E. A. Goldman as follows:

One afternoon I found onc pecking at a bole near the gronad in the trunk of an oak. It worked for a second or two and then paused long enough to lock in my direction, beginning work again immediately. This was repeated several times and it seemed disinclined to leave the spot, allowing me to approach to within ten feet, when, instead of flying off, it slid around to the opposite side of the trunk while I examined the place and found the hole inhabited by numerous small black beetles which were running excitedly about. I moved off a short distance and watched the Woodpecker return to the hole which seemed to be a rich find.

She goes on to say:

On Chloride Creek In May, 1016, when Mr. Ligon was standing by a half dead box elder containing a woodpecker nest, the mother came with her bill for half its length jamnied full of wood ants for the squawking young inside the hole. One that Mr. Kellogg took at Silver City had recently eaten two woodhoring larvae, six caterpillars, and at least ten moth pupae, besides other insects and mast.