This medium-sized woodpecker can be difficult to find in Florida, and it is often confused with the smaller, and more common, Downy Woodpecker. Hairy Woodpeckers are rare to uncommon, year-round residents in well-managed mixed forests throughout the state (except for the southern tip). Unlike the Downy Woodpecker, the Hairy Woodpecker spends most of its time foraging on tree trunks rather than on branches. When trying to distinguish between these two species, look for the Hairy Woodpecker’s larger size (9 inches vs. 6.5 inches), larger bill (long and chisel-like vs. short and stubby) and white outer tail feathers (the Downy Woodpecker’s outer tail feathers are white with black spots, giving a barred appearance). Also, compared to the Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker calls are louder, sharper and do not drop in pitch as much. Hairy Woodpeckers are less likely to be found in urban and suburban areas.
For more information, including a range map and sound recording, visit The Cornell Lab of Ornithology's All About Birds website.
Recommended GFBWT sites:
- Blackwater River State Park
- Colt Creek State Park
- Hal Scott Regional Preserve and Park
- Lake Kissimmee State Park
- Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park
- Ocala National Forest: Alexander Springs
- Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest and Wildlife Management Area
- Picayune Strand State Forest: Sabal Palm Hiking Trail
- Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area
Wekiwa Springs State Park
The Hairy Woodpecker lives in forests with medium to large trees; it seems to prefer open pine forest in Florida.