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Downy woodpecker

By: Garden Gate staff
This small member of the woodpecker family is easy to spot in winter at the suet feeder or clinging to the bark of any tree.

PHOTO: © Jay Gilliam

wildlife

Downy woodpecker Picoides pubescens

This small member of the woodpecker family is easy to spot in winter at the suet feeder or clinging to the bark of any tree. For shelter during long cold nights, this industrious bird drills holes in trees, which are sometimes taken over by small mammals or other birds. When this happens, it often takes refuge in bird houses — a good reason to leave yours up over the winter.

The downy woodpecker’s acute hearing can pick up the sound of insect larvae and beetles boring under bark or even the wood in your siding. Having one hammering on your house may be a good sign you need to call the insect exterminator.

In summer, insects make up most of its diet, but it also loves fruit, berries and nuts. Offer a nectar feeder to satisfy this bird’s craving for sweets.

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