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June 17, 2021

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Bird of the Week – Hairy Woodpecker

For Christmas Eve, we’ll have a bird with a splash of Christmas color, the male Hairy Woodpecker.

Male Hairy Woodpecker, Fairbanks

Male Hairy Woodpecker, Fairbanks

Only the males have red on their heads; females are just black and white. The Hairy Woodpecker is Alaska’s largest woodpecker. They are sometimes difficult to find in the forest. Tracking them down by their drumming is the usual approach. But they are enthusiastic about suet feeders, especially in the interior.

Male Hairy Woodpecker, Fairbanks

Male Hairy Woodpecker, Fairbanks

Hairys dig nest cavities in trees. Looks for piles of wood chips around the base of a tree. Once the eggs hatch, the kids are noisy and the nest is pretty easy to find. Like many of Alaska’s woodpeckers, the Hairy is here year-round.

For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather Images.

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8 Responses to “Bird of the Week – Hairy Woodpecker”
  1. CHSRQuilter says:

    We have both suet and seed feeders. Each summer, for the last 7-8 years, the male hairy woodpecker teaches the latest brood how to use the seed feeder, which has a very narrow bottom ledge. This means the woodpecker is basically hanging upside down while feeding from the ledge. He squawks at the kids, who are scooting up and down an adjacent post and squawking back. Very noisy folk! Eventually, one of the juveniles is brave enough to join dad and learn how to hang upside down for a taste of black oil seeds. It’s a great show! Have only seen the hairy woodpecker do this. The other varieties living in our woods just fancy the suet.

  2. mike from iowa says:

    What do woodpeckers do year around in Alaska? Are they professional moose and bear guides? Doesn’t seem like there is much to nosh on in the subzero cold.

    • Alaska Pi says:

      I don’t know if the one in my neighborhood last summer was a Downy or a Hairy woodpecker but whichever one it was had some odd issues.
      Right here on the ridge there’s a metal guardrail to keep folks from spilling over the steep slope. Bird was out there on and off for days tappity-tapping on the metal rail .
      From lack of any real knowledge, neighbors and I finally decided to believe it was loopy from fermented Sitka Mountain Ash berries on the ground nearby and playing at being Buddy Rich…:-)

    • CHSRQuilter says:

      They are here all year.

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