Dappled black and white, like light filtering through the forest canopy onto a tree trunk, the Hairy Woodpecker is among the most widespread and familiar of North American birds. It is resident in forest and woodland habitats from near treeline in the far north and on mountains to the highlands of western Panama, many continental islands, and some islands of the Bahamas. In the Bahamas and some other areas, it is primarily a bird of the pines; but in many areas it is more catholic in its choice of forest habitats.
This woodpecker's name is derived from the long, filamentous white or whitish feathers in the middle of its back. Even among woodpeckers, it is particularly well adapted for climbing and pecking. Along with its smaller congener and look-alike, the Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens), the Hairy is one of the best-known species of this group because it is easy to observe and comes readily to feeders. Away from feeders, it is relatively shy. The male has a narrow red patch or 2 smaller lateral patches of red on the back of the crown, readily visible in the field. The Hairy Woodpecker is larger than the Downy Woodpecker, has a heavier and longer bill, and usually lacks black markings on its outer tail-feathers.
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