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Photograph - Nature Photography
Hairy Woodpecker on a dead red oak tree. Photography by Bob Orsillo.
The Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus) is a medium-sized woodpecker, averaging approximately 250 mm (9.75 inches) in length with a 380 mm (15 inch) wingspan. With an estimated population in 2003 of over nine million individuals, the Hairy Woodpecker is listed by the IUCN as a species of least concern in North America.
Adults are mainly black on the upper parts and wings, with a white or pale back and white spotting on the wings; the throat and belly vary from white to sooty brown, depending on subspecies. There is a white bar above and one below the eye. They have a black tail with white outer feathers. Adult males have a red patch or two side-by-side patches on the back of the head; juvenile males have red or rarely orange-red on the crown.
The Hairy Woodpecker is virtually identical in plumage to the much smaller Downy Woodpecker, which also has a shorter bill relative to the size of its head. These two species are not closely related, however, and are likely to be separated in different genera. The best way to tell the two species apart other than the size is the lack of spots on its white tail feathers (which the Downy has). Their outward similarity is a spectacular example of convergent evolution. As to why this convergence has evolved, only tentative hypotheses have been advanced; in any case due to the considerable size difference, ecological competition between the two species is rather slight.
These birds are mostly permanent residents. Birds in the extreme north may migrate further south; birds in mountainous areas may move to lower elevations.
These birds forage on trees, often turning over bark or excavating to uncover insects. They mainly eat insects, also fruits, berries and nuts, sometimes tree sap. They are also known to peck at wooden window frames and wood sided homes that may house bugs.
October 16th, 2010
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