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The Ivory Bill·Birds·Cavity Makers

Hairy Woodpeckers, Picoides villosus

Hairy Woodpecker perched on a tree branch

Hairy Woodpeckers breed in mature forests and woodlands across North America, including Canada, the United States, and parts of Mexico from late April to July. They are commonly found in dense woodlands, mature deciduous, coniferous, and mixed forests, forest edges, and wooded urban parks where insects, larvae, and seeds are abundant during the breeding season.

They forage on tree trunks, branches, and logs for beetle larvae, ants, caterpillars, spiders, and other insects. They may also feed on fruits, nuts, and sap.

Hairy Woodpeckers have strong, chisel-like beaks and long, stiff tail feathers for support, enabling them to drill into wood and bark to access insect prey. They use their barbed tongues to extract insects from crevices.

Courtship involves drumming, calling, and displaying. Males and females perform mutual tapping on tree trunks, aerial displays, and chasing each other through the forest.

Both males and females excavate nesting cavities in dead or decaying trees, preferring species like pines, maples, and oaks, typically at heights ranging from 2 to 20 meters in forested habitats, forest edges, and sometimes suburban areas. No additional materials are used inside the cavity.

They rarely nest in birdhouses. Natural cavities in trees are preferred. If used, birdhouses should be about 9 inches deep, with a 1.5-inch diameter entrance hole, mounted on trees in wooded areas at heights of 2 to 20 meters. Hairy Woodpecker Birdhouse Plans

Egg laying occurs from May to June, with females laying 3 to 6 white eggs. Both parents share incubation duties for about 11 to 12 days. After hatching, adults feed chicks with regurgitated insects and larvae.

Chicks begin learning to forage by observing parents and pecking at tree bark. Vulnerabilities include predation by raptors and mammals, and competition for nesting sites. As they develop, they improve their ability to locate and capture prey.

Fledging occurs at around 28 to 30 days old. Continued adult guidance includes teaching fledglings to locate food sources and drill into wood effectively. Their diet evolves to include more solid food items such as insects and fruits.

Hairy Woodpeckers are generally non-migratory. They remain in their territories year-round, with some local movements to find food during winter months.

Wintering habitats include mature forests, woodlands, and wooded urban areas. During winter, they forage for insects, larvae, fruits, and nuts.