Field identification tips: The Hairy Woodpecker (Dryobates villosus) is a familiar sight in many North American suburban yards north of Mexico. The bold white blaze on the back helps identify this species, a field mark shared with the Downy Woodpecker, Dryobates pubescens. Distinguishing D. pubescens from D. villosus can be tricky because their apperance is very similar. D. pubescens is a smaller bird, barely larger than a chickadee or nuthatch. This species also has a proportionally smaller bill, not quite as long as the bird's head, and dark spots can often be seen on the white outer tail feathers while D. villosus is larger, about the size of the American Robin, has a bill nearly as long as its head, and un-spotted white outer tail feathers. Males of both D. pubescens and D. villosus have a red spot on the nape. Eastern birds typically show more white spots on the wings and brighter underparts than western birds. Birds in eastern Costa Rica and western Panama have cinnamon underparts.
Typical range: This bird is a year-round resident over much of North America north of Mexico, as well as highlands south into Central America.
Habitat: D. villosus is found primarily in deciduous open woodlands, including orchards, parks, and suburban yards.