Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker, Vancouver Island, BC

The hairy woodpecker is a medium-sized woodpecker, it can reach up to 25 cm in length. The larger subspecies of these woodpeckers live in northern regions of their habitat range, while smaller ones live further south.

Although most of its upperparts and feathers are black and white, some variations among the woodpecker subspecies do occur. The male and female woodpeckers of each particular subspecies appear similar in coloring, except males have a splotch of red on the back of their head, while females have black in the same area.

The sound of the hairy woodpecker tapping into a tree is often compared to a drum roll that stops as suddenly as it started.

The hairy woodpecker can be found throughout North America from Alaska, south through most of Canada, all of Vancouver Island, the United States, and further south into mountainous parts of Mexico and Central America.

This species of woodpecker is the most common of woodpeckers in their regions, although unfortunately, this may be changing as a decrease in the population has been noticed in some areas, although they are still quite prevalent on the coast.

There are more than 17 subspecies of the hairy woodpecker, living at many different elevations and habitat areas all over North America.

Even though insects are their favorite food, it really enjoys eating the larvae of wood-boring beetles, will also eat ants, caterpillars, other beetles, some berries, seeds, and nuts. Will feed on sap at damaged trees or at sapsucker workings, and will come to bird feeders for suet. Forages mainly on the trunks and limbs of trees, sometimes on vines, shrubs. Energetic in its search, often probing, pulling off the bark, and excavating into dead wood in pursuit of insects.

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