Downy Woodpecker

Often spotted at backyard feeders, the small Downy Woodpecker is recognized by its black back with white spots over white underparts and a red spot on the back of its head. Females do not sport the red dot like their male counterparts. Like other woodpeckers, Downies will drum on dead branches looking for insects but will readily eat from traditional feeders and suet feeders. Listen for their chirping ‘pik’
or ‘chik’ and a descending, chattering whinny. Downies are widespread; found almost everywhere there are trees–parks, suburbs, woodlands and orchards just to name a few.

Favorite Foods

A perfect balance of peanuts, dried fruit, sunflower, hulled sunflower and tree nuts, WoodpeckerWise® is a Downy favorite. BerryWise,® a sweet and crunchy treat is another nutritious and filling choice. In addition, Downies will happily eat any one of our seven suet flavors.

Perfect Feeders

Downies will eat seed from tube and platform feeders, but their top choice is suet feeders. Our Going Green® line is made from recycled milk jugs and is incredibly long-lasting. Try our large cedar ranch feeder with suet cages on either end. It’s great for seed-eating birds AND those who would prefer some tasty suet! 


Downy woodpeckers typically choose warm and cozy tree cavities situated anywhere from 3-50 feet up in the tree. Both sexes will incubate the eggs and care for the young. After 12 days, most of the babies are hatching and they are able to fly when they are about 20-25 days old. Look for soft, fluffy (and puffy!) baby birds at your feeders once they are able to leave the nest.

Did You Know?

As the smallest North American woodpecker, the Downy can drill cavities in dead trees or limbs that measure as little as 10 cm around. This means that it can live in a wider range of habitat than can larger woodpeckers.