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Missouri Woodpeckers

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Published on: Nov. 2, 1999

Last revision: Nov. 4, 2010

statewide

  • 6 inches in length
  • eats mostly insects; occasionally fruit, seeds and sap from sapsucker holes
  • lives in all types of woodlands, from extensive mature forests to small urban woodlots
  • nests in cavities excavated in snags or live trees
  • female and male incubate four to five eggs for 12 days
  • young fledge in 20 to 25 days
  • call is a frequent high pitched "pik" and "ki-ki-ki-ki" rattling series
  • drums frequently in 1 to 1 1/2 second bursts
  • Wood you care to know?

    • Downies are the smallest of our resident woodpeckers.
    • Usually recognized by their white back and short bill, they also have two black bars on their white outer tail feathers.
    • Males have a red patch on the back of their heads that females lack.
    • Each individual has a one-of-a-kind pattern on its head and back.
    • They breed wherever there are trees with decayed branches suitable for nesting and foraging.
    • Downies often camouflage the nest cavity entrance hole with moss, lichen and fungus.
    • Woodland edge and wooded riparian corridors seem especially attractive to these birds.
    • They sometimes uses birdhouses for roosting, but not for nesting.
    • They commonly visit feeders.

    Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus)

    Hard-nosed facts

    • fairly common statewide
    • 7.5 inches in length
    • eats mostly insects; occasionally nuts (especially in winter) and sap from sapsucker holes
    • lives in mature forests; also well-wooded towns and parks
    • nests in cavities excavated in snags
    • female and male incubate four eggs for 11 to 15 days
    • young fledge in 28 to 30 days
    • call is a sharp, loud "peek" or "keek-ik-ik-ik" rattling series
    • drums frequently but variably; indistinguishable from downies, except at times by volume

    Wood you care to know?

    • Hairy woodpeckers look a lot like downy woodpeckers but are slightly larger with longer bills.
    • Males have a red patch on the back of their heads that females lack.
    • They often forage far from nest sites.
    • Male and female pair bonds are strengthened through duet drumming.
    • They commonly visit feeders.
    • Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus)

    Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus)

    Hard-nosed facts

    • found statewide, but most abundant in northern half of state
    • 9 inches long
    • eats acorns, fruit, plant and animal material
    • breeds in deciduous woodlands and open areas with scattered trees
    • nests in cavities excavated in barkless snags or dead stubs on live trees; also uses natural cavities
    • female and male incubate four to five eggs for 12

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