Downy Woodpecker Small Journal
The following description appears on the inside cover of your small journal.
The downy woodpecker is the smallest, tamest and most abundant eastern woodpecker. The male is distinguished from the female by a bright red patch on the back of his head. The downy woodpecker’s back and forth motions are active and sprightly as it spirally ascends the circumference of a tree, giving occasional raps on the bark. The tail feathers afford rigid support as the bird hitches its way up the trunk. The hard sharp bill is used to chisel into bark and wood while searching for insects or excavating a nest hole. The bird’s unique skull structure reduces the shock of impact against hard surfaces.
Woodpeckers generally build their homes by excavating holes in limbs and trunks of trees. Downy woodpeckers prefer to drill their holes in dead trees with both sexes sharing in the digging. Holes usually face south or east, probably to take advantage of early morning light and warmth of the rising sun. The female lays her eggs on a layer of wood chips left on the bottom of the cavity.
Mated pairs of downy woodpeckers remain together throughout the year. They are generally not migratory as their food supply of insect pupae and larvae is available under bark or in dead rotted wood year-round. Downy woodpeckers roam the winter woods in the company of mixed flocks of chickadees, nuthatches, creepers and kinglets.
artwork and text by Steve Sierigk