Photo credit: Dan Lory

I’ve got a lot of time for the diminutive Downy. They don't migrate, so it’s a bird you can count on seeing year-round. In pretty much any type of forest, any time of year, all hours of the day, even the shortest stroll will likely be rewarded with a Downy Woodpecker’s lively chuckle and a flash of black and white that shoots across your path and pastes itself to the side of a tree. Even on the most dreary days of winter, when the forests and city parks seem lifeless, you can count on these sprightly birds to inject a welcome dose of sound and motion. You'll hear a dull tap-tap-tap, and an occasional sound like a baby giving a sharp squeeze to a squeaky toy. 


The Downy Woodpecker is small--only about 6" from head to tail--and sometimes tough to spot, but look hard enough and you'll find it working its way up a tree trunk, searching every nook and cranny for insects. A spot of red on the head means it's a male.


Dan's Feathursday Feature is a weekly contribution to the COS blog featuring the thoughts, insights and pictures of Chicago birder, Dan Lory on birds of the Chicago region.