In a side-by-side comparison it's not as hard to tell the difference between the smaller Downy Woodpecker and larger Hairy Woodpecker. The Downy is about half the size of a Hairy and the Downy’s bill is shorter than its head, whereas the Hairy’s bill is as long its head.
- At about 6 inches, it’s smallest woodpecker in North America and the
most frequent visitor to backyard feeders year-round. They have a white
belly and back and their black wings have white bars. The males have a
red patch on the back of the head. The Downy’s name
refers to the soft white feathers of the white strip on the lower back, which
differ from the more hairlike feathers on the Hairy Woodpecker.
2. Hairy Woodpecker
– At about 9 inches, these medium woodpeckers look like their smaller
downy woodpecker cousins. They aren’t as common at suburban birdfeeders.
3. Red-bellied Woodpecker
- They are common throughout most of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula
year-round. People often call the Red-bellied woodpecker by a list of
common misnomers like red-headed or ladder-back woodpecker because of
their gleaming red caps and striking black and white barred backs. Since
virtually all woodpeckers are black and white with patches of bright
colors on various parts of their bodies, the Red-bellied was named for
the unique pinkish tinge on the belly, common to both genders.
4. Northern Flicker
– Unlike most woodpeckers, this species spends much of its time on the
ground, feeding mostly on ants. They are more commonly sighted at suet feeders in the winter. Both the male and females have a red
chevron on the back of their heads, black bibs, speckled chest, and a
brown, barred back and wings. The males have a black “mustache”.
5. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are mostly black and white with boldly
patterned faces. Both sexes have red foreheads, and males also have red
throats. Sapsuckers are seen more and more often in mid-Michigan during the winters, but most head farther south, going as far south as Panama. They drill lines of shallow wells that fill up with sap that the
sapsucker laps up with their brush-like tongue (not sucks). He also eats any
bugs that happen to get trapped in the sticky stuff.
6. Red-headed Woodpecker
– These woodpeckers have an unmistakable bright red head, black wings
and white belly. They spend the summers in all of Michigan but are the least common at mid-Michigan feeders
7. Pileated Woodpecker
– Hard to mistake this bird if it drops down on to your suet feeder. They are Michigan's largest woodpecker at sixteen and a half inches in length and a
wingspan up to 30 inches. The males have a characteristic red
"mustache," which is actually a stripe near the beak. The female's
stripe is black. There is no real consensus on
whether this bird’s name is pronounced “pie-lee-ated” or “pill-ee-ated”.