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California, Sierra Nevada: Hairy or Downy Woodpecker? (1 Viewer)

LucaPCP

Well-known member
Is this a hairy or downy woodpecker?
Seen in the Sierra Nevada, about 6000ft.
Your help is much appreciated. I am also surprised at how narrow is the top white band; in the Sibley, it is depicted as being much wider. Here, in places, it is almost a thin line.

2020-12-01_17-03-20_PC010169.jpg 2020-12-01_17-03-21_PC010170.jpg
 

LucaPCP

Well-known member
Many thanks! It’s interesting, I don’t think then that I have seen a downy woodpecker yet. Are they rarer? Or do they have a different distribution? Both around Truckee, and the Bay Area, it has been always hairy and not downy for me.
 

rkj

Well-known member
Many thanks! It’s interesting, I don’t think then that I have seen a downy woodpecker yet. Are they rarer? Or do they have a different distribution? Both around Truckee, and the Bay Area, it has been always hairy and not downy for me.

In my experience, in the Bay Area and in the Sierra Nevada Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers are both common. Downy tends to be more in lower, especially riparian, habitats. Hairy is more catholic in its habitat selection, and both species occur in many areas. Learning the calls will help you locate Downies.
 

Dutchbirder64

Well-known member
Hairy indeed. It is like our Great Spotted WP and Lesser Spotted WP. And we have a Middle Spotted WP too. Hairy is a Thrush size bird and Downy just 6 inches.
 

LucaPCP

Well-known member
Many thanks you all!
On a side note, I am impressed by my luck with that photo. The tree was quite tall; I was not very close (100 ft or likely more?), and I took it with my Olympus E-M1II with a 300mm lens (equivalent to 600mm) bracing myself for stability against another three, in the vaning light of the day, then cropping like crazy the very central part of the frame. I am impressed that the photo came out so good given the circumstances.
 

LucaPCP

Well-known member
In my experience, in the Bay Area and in the Sierra Nevada Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers are both common. Downy tends to be more in lower, especially riparian, habitats. Hairy is more catholic in its habitat selection, and both species occur in many areas. Learning the calls will help you locate Downies.
I see. Lower in elevation you mean? Here I am mostly at or above 6000ft. But I think I need to be better at spotting the downy ones. I will study their calls.
 

connorco

Active member
Many thanks! It’s interesting, I don’t think then that I have seen a downy woodpecker yet. Are they rarer? Or do they have a different distribution? Both around Truckee, and the Bay Area, it has been always hairy and not downy for me.
In the Bay Area, it's about 50/50 Downy to Hairy in Oak Forests and such. Once you move into the residential areas You'll get more Downy. I live more in the forests of the Bay Area, and we get lot's of Hairy and Downy, as well as Nuttall's, Pileated, Acorn, and Flicker. Downy are definitely much harder in the high Sierra.
 

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