Length: 8 – 11 inches
Wingspan: 15 – 17 inches
Weight: 1.5 – 3 ounces
▶ Its call sounds like a shrill ‘peek’. It creates a sound like a rolling drum when tapping at wood.
▶ This drumming sound is used while locating a new nest site and also while announcing their territory. They also select ‘drumming posts’, tapping on which creates a louder sound. This may be an old telephone pole, hollow branch, or even a chimney.
▶ Their nest has a two-inch opening and is around 10 inches deep, and gets wider toward the end.
▶ Both the male and the female take turns to watch over their 4 eggs, in shifts.
▶ Between the years 1966 to 2010, their population increased by just 1%.
▶ The rapid fragmentation of forests and competition for nest sites from the European starling are the biggest threats facing this species.
✦ They also follow pileated woodpeckers when they chisel holes in trees. When the pileated woodpecker leaves the hole, the hairy woodpecker arrives to check the hole for any insects that may have missed. In fact, the hairy woodpecker emerges even when it hears the sound of a pileated woodpecker tapping wood!
✦ Two of the smallest species of hairy woodpeckers―Picoides villosus piger and Picoides villosus maynardi―are found in the Bahamas.
✦ The vigorous tapping on tree trunks does not injure the woodpecker, because it has strong head and neck muscles. Tufts of feathers near the beak prevent particles from entering its nostrils.