Feathered Delinquent

Mike Oxley

Cornwall Ontario, Canada

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Artist's Description

Downy Woodpecker (Picoides Pubescens)

Cooper Marsh Conservation Area, Lancaster, Ontario, Canada
November 12, 2010

Spotted this wee thug vandalizing the handrail of the boardwalk. Wood chips everywhere and the trail of damage went on for yards. We humans get into trouble for picking a flower, these guys get away with wanton destruction. There ought to be a law! :o)

But they are kinda cute!

Caught in the act!

I used my now patented “stealth approach”, where I nonchalantly look around, whistle innocently and walk forward a few quiet steps, take a piccie or two, then repeat until I’m either really close or the wee bugger flies away.

With thanks to www.allaboutbirds.org

The active little Downy Woodpecker is a familiar sight at backyard feeders and in parks and woodlots, where it joins flocks of chickadees and nuthatches, barely outsizing them. An often acrobatic forager, this black-and-white woodpecker is at home on tiny branches or balancing on slender plant galls, sycamore seed balls, and suet feeders.

Size & Shape

Downy Woodpeckers are small versions of the classic woodpecker body plan. They have a straight, chisel-like bill, blocky head, wide shoulders, and straight-backed posture as they lean away from tree limbs and onto their tail feathers. The bill tends to look smaller for the bird’s size than in other woodpeckers.

Colour Pattern

Downy Woodpeckers give a checkered black-and-white impression. The black upperparts are checked with white on the wings, the head is boldly striped, and the back has a broad white stripe down the center. Males have a small red patch on the back of the head. The outer tail feathers are typically white with a few black spots.


Downy Woodpeckers hitch around tree limbs and trunks or drop into tall weeds to feed on galls, moving more acrobatically than larger woodpeckers. Their rising-and-falling flight style is distinctive of many woodpeckers. In spring and summer, Downy Woodpeckers make lots of noise, both with their shrill whinnying call and by drumming on trees.


You’ll find Downy Woodpeckers in open woodlands, particularly among deciduous trees, and brushy or weedy edges. They’re also at home in orchards, city parks, backyards and vacant lots.

Sony Alpha 700, Sigma 28 to 300 at 300 mm
iso 100, multi-pattern metering, F6.7, 1/125 second

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birds nature woodpeckers wildlife autumn

Artwork Comments

  • Al Bourassa
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  • (Tallow) Dave  Van de Laar
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  • Photography  by Mathilde
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