February is National Feed a Bird Month. Charlie was kind enough to share some of his bird knowledge and photos.
Downy woodpeckers are our smallest woodpecker and like chickadees are found in a wide variety of habitats. They are common in residential neighborhoods that contain fairly large trees where they nest in small cavities that they excavate in soft or decaying wood. Also like chickadees, they spend winter nights in cavities where they are protected from cold temperatures and chilling winds. Downy woodpeckers will visit feeders to feast on suet and peanut butter and will even eat corn and sunflower seeds by wedging them in bark crevices and pounding them open. Along with chickadees, titmice, nuthatches and brown creepers, downy woodpeckers will form a feeding cohort that travels through woodland. Each species in the cohort has a different feeding strategy and thus does not compete against the others. Male downy woodpeckers have a small red spot on the back of their heads, which females lack.
The Cornell Ornithology Lab has more information and recordings so you can hear the song. You can also visit National Geographic’s website or Audubon for more downy woodpecker information.