The little Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens) is probably our most familiar woodpecker. In winter, it readily takes suet from bird feeders and often joins the mixed bands of small birds that roam through the woods, each species feeding differently but all deriving protection from the wariness of the flock.
The larger Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus) is more of a forest dweller than the Downy. Both “downies” and “hairys” are named for their feathers, probably the short ones around their nostrils.
The Downy woodpecker is a fascinating creature. Although quite territorial, he is very tolerant of other species. The Downy is very dominant to his mate and, when foraging on the same tree, will keep her at the lower part where the bark is thicker and harder to work. However, he is very protective of the female and will give an alarm call even though it might attract a predator to him.