poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘Downy Woodpecker

woodpeckers in the grey woods

with 3 comments

If you are new to my site, you might not know that we call the woods behind our house ‘the grey woods’. The woods are mainly balsam fir and black spruce, with grey birch and red maple. Here is a map of our property (about 19 acres).




Woodpeckers are a common bird in the grey woods. We have Pileated Woodpeckers (Dryocopus pileatus), Hairy Woodpeckers (Leuconotopicus villosus), and Downy Woodpeckers (Picoides pubescens). The woodpeckers love the older trees in the woods. They also peck at our wood-shingled house!



Here is a Hairy Woodpecker hard at work in a balsam fir. He is hard to tell from the Downy Woodpecker (especially when you can’t see his beak) but the Hairy woodpecker is larger (about the size of a Robin) and sometimes his red cap is divided into two parts (seen clearly in this photo).



Copyright Jane Tims 2017

Written by jane tims

May 29, 2017 at 7:32 am

spring orchestra – downy woodpecker

with 8 comments

'female Hairy Woodpecker'



sticky tongue, tail prop, zygodactyl feet


beneath the key of chained song (chick-a-dee

whistle, robin melodic and whitethroat

mnemonic, wheezy phoebe, junco click) –

grubs mumble, coil in rotting wood


beneath low woodwind, blazing brass and string –

jagged percussion and drum roll, Downy

Woodpecker excavates sugar maple

stump, black jackhammer


beak throws wood chips, heaps sawdust and splinters

dapper shudders, black and white, a grey smudge

bright head-bars, a red blur, tap a stammer

steady stutter, busyspeak



Copyright 2015  Jane Tims

Written by jane tims

May 8, 2015 at 7:33 am

at the bird feeder #4 – Woodpeckers

with 6 comments

The bird feeder had a new visitor last Thursday, a woodpecker.  My husband saw it at the feeder, but by the time he had the camera ready, it was gone.  Undaunted, he went outside and chased the little lady through the woods until he had several photos.

We identified the bird from the photos.  There were two possibilities, a Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) and a Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus).  Both have a white stripe on the back.  The males of both species have a red patch on the back of the head (the one at our feeder was a female).  The differences between the two are body size (the Hairy Woodpecker is the larger of the two) and the size of the beak (the Hairy Woodpecker has a much longer beak, about 3/4 of the depth of the head).

We are reasonably certain our bird was a Hairy Woodpecker.  Its beak is noticeably long.  Also, the round cut branch on the tree in the photo (in front of the bird’s feet) is at least an inch in diameter, making the length of this bird about nine and a half inches.




Downy Woodpecker  (Picoides pubescens)


daft little bird

propped, pubescent, plump

bang your silly

head against the tree

eat a bug


your sculptor used

deft fingers

to point your beak

solidify your tail

paint feathers

foam on black water

snow on dark woods

night sky with planets


your downy crown



©  Jane Tims 2012

Written by jane tims

January 14, 2012 at 9:45 am

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