Three species of woodpeckers at the suet feeders in one day!
I managed to trim the photos of the Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers to the same relative magnification using the suet feeder as a guide, so you can see the size difference between them. (Click on the image below for max resolution)
Downy Woodpeckers (left) weigh 20-30 grams and are 5-7 inches long, while Hairy Woodpeckers (right) weigh 40-90 grams and are 7-10 inches long. These particular birds are both females — there might be larger differences between males of the two species.
Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers are common and inhabit the same range over most of North America, where both species are year-round residents. They compete for nest sites, as well as food, in mature forest, and can be aggressive toward one another. Although they seem to have identical plumage as adults, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers are actually not very closely related genetically. It is thought that the two species have converged on a single black and white plumage pattern, maximizing their ability to recognize each other and defend feeding and nesting territories from each other (interspecific territoriality).
And then, there’s this guy, a handsome male Pileated Woodpecker, whose head and neck are about the same length as the little Downy.
This might be one of the pair of Pileateds I keep hearing back in the woods, but have never seen. Our subfreezing night time temperatures have made the suet feeders quite attractive to all sorts of birds, even these mammoth wood chippers. He doesn’t have the right body shape to utilize this tiny feeder, though.