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.