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Downy vs Hairy?


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From my research I think a Downy and a Hairy male woodpecker, but I'm unsure? One seems to be much smaller than the other, I haven't seen them land together yet so it's hard to tell, but here are a few photos comparisons. Both spotted near Lake George, CO yesterday. 

What I believe is Downy are in first photos, then Hairy following in next two photos.

 

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Edited by StacyC
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Okay, if you're reading a size out of a field guide or on-line source, and it gives you one number -- laugh at it. Just like people aren't all 5'6", Downy Woodpeckers aren't all 6.5" -- those are averages, and there's variation around them. Pyle lists wing measurements as 84 - 115 mm, for instance, which is a fair bit of variation. Interestingly, he also lists overlap between Downy and Hairy in both wing and tail measurements, although that may be a geographic issue. (Large Downy in one place could overlap with small Hairy somewhere else, without ever showing an overlap at any one location.) The one measurement he doesn't show overlap with is the bill length, although even there they can come closer than field guides often make it look.

Looking back at that third bird, I'm not quite as comfortable calling it as I was -- there isn't a shoulder spur which a Hairy should show, but the head and bill look a bit bigger than I was thinking.

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27 minutes ago, psweet said:

Okay, if you're reading a size out of a field guide or on-line source, and it gives you one number -- laugh at it. Just like people aren't all 5'6", Downy Woodpeckers aren't all 6.5" -- those are averages, and there's variation around them. Pyle lists wing measurements as 84 - 115 mm, for instance, which is a fair bit of variation. Interestingly, he also lists overlap between Downy and Hairy in both wing and tail measurements, although that may be a geographic issue. (Large Downy in one place could overlap with small Hairy somewhere else, without ever showing an overlap at any one location.) The one measurement he doesn't show overlap with is the bill length, although even there they can come closer than field guides often make it look.

Looking back at that third bird, I'm not quite as comfortable calling it as I was -- there isn't a shoulder spur which a Hairy should show, but the head and bill look a bit bigger than I was thinking.

True, that makes sense. So it’s probanly just a few sizes of Downy. Thanks for the explanation!

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#3 may be, the others are clearly Downy's. Hairy don't have stout bills -- they have long bills. The barring on the outer tail feathers is tricky in photos -- most of the time you're only seeing a little bit of a couple of feathers, and you won't see any bars. Even if you are seeing the entire feather, it turns out that Downy's don't always have very much (little enough that you might not see it even in #3), and Hairy's occasionally show a small amount -- to the point that there is actually a bit of overlap.

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I am very much in training on these guys, but #3 looks like a good candidate for Hairy based on length of bill--nearly as long as the head, narrow white stripe under eye/minimal neck patch (http://www.sibleyguides.com/2011/02/a-new-clue-for-identifying-downy-and-hairy-woodpeckers/), and what appears to be a hint of a shoulder spur (https://birdeden.com/how-to-distinguish-between-downy-hairy-woodpecker). Psweet's comments on size are well taken, and Pyle is the definitive source for bird specs, but judging by the suet cake, this bird is larger than the Downys I see at my suet. Finally one more observation from Sibley on the red patch at the back of the head on males. It seems to be divided on Hairys: http://www.sibleyguides.com/2011/03/another-clue-for-identifying-downy-and-hairy-woodpeckers/

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