Tuesday, 18 September 2012


            There are approximately 20 species of Woodpeckers in North America. The three most common species here in Northern Ontario are the Downy, Hairy, and, Pileated Woodpecker.

Downy Woodpecker
The downy woodpecker is the smallest of the three at approximately 6 inches. They are white with black wings that feature white spots. Males will have a bright red cap on the back of their head. They are highly tolerant to human activity and become quite tame. They tend to feed higher in trees but will also come down to a suet log or feeder with peanut halves or sunflower seeds.
Hairy Woodpecker
The hairy woodpecker shares most physical traits with the downy; they are however a little larger at about 9 inches. They are easily distinguishable by their larger more developed beak. Unfortunately they are not quite as tame as their little cousins, though they will tolerate some human activity. Like the downy they prefer the suet but will feed on sunflower seeds and peanut halves.

Pileated Woodpecker
The largest and most impressive of the three is the Pileated Woodpecker, growing up to 20 inches tall. They are black with white underside and a bright red crest. You’ll also know one is around by the loud noise they make when pecking at a tree. They prefer to stay in wooded areas but have been known to frequent a suet log in the winter months. They are quite wary of human activity and generally don’t stick around when people line up to gawk. To increase the chances of bringing the pileated into your yard to feed try putting the suet higher in the tree or directly on the bark this will allow them to feed at a comfortable distance.

            Woodpeckers favour suet but are also quite partial to peanut halves. The ideal treat would be suet with peanuts or pieces of peanuts in it. There are several types of feeders one can use such a as a cage for a suet cake, a pin for a suet ball, or a suet log with holes to stuff the suet into.