Downy Woodpecker

Picidae (woodpeckers) in the order Piciformes

A small woodpecker, the downy woodpecker has black-and-white upperparts that look checkered, streaked or spotted. Underparts are white or whitish. Males have a red patch at their nape (juvenile males may have a reddish crown). Females lack the red nape. The tail is black with white outer tail feathers; there are usually some black spots on the white outer tail feathers. The bill is small and short, extending beyond the bristly feathers at the base of the bill.

Length: 6 3/4 inches (tip of bill to tip of tail).
Habitat and conservation: 
Downy woodpeckers are never far from trees—forests, woodlands, parks and orchards—forested areas are necessary for their existence. Their excavate their nest cavities in dead trees or limbs, and they feed on bark insects and other items found on trees.
Downy woodpeckers forage on tree trunks and branches for bark insects, seeds, fruits and sap. At bird feeders, downy woodpeckers are attracted to sunflower seeds and suet.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Downy woodpeckers are common statewide in forests, woodlands, parks and orchards.
Common permanent resident.
Life cycle: 
Downy woodpeckers mate in the springtime and nest in cavities they drill into branches, usually in dead in dying wood. About four or five eggs are laid, which hatch after about 12 days. In winter, downy woodpeckers roost in their tree cavities and eat overwintering insect cocoons and eggcases, nuts, seeds and other items.
Human connections: 
As foragers on bark insects, downy woodpeckers do trees, and the people who benefit from trees, a great service. They are also a favorite bird to view at feeding stations.
Ecosystem connections: 
Downy woodpeckers play an important role as they feed on insects. Their nest cavities are used by many other species that don’t excavate their own nests.