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BIRD'S FROM OUR BALCONY

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Downy Woodpecker

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Our smallest woodpecker at 6 inches; spotted with black and white.  Dark bars on the outer tail feathers distinguish it from the similar but larger hairy woodpecker.   Resident in the United States and the forested parts of Canada and Alaska.

This woodpecker is widely distributed, living in woodlands, orchards and gardens.   Like the hairy woodpecker, it beats a tattoo on a dry resonant tree branch.   To appreciative ears it has the quality of forest music.  In a hole excavated in a dead branch the downy woodpecker lays four to six eggs.  This and the hairy woodpecker are valuable human allies, their food consisting of some of the worst insect foes of orchard and shade trees.  Beef, suet, fastened too high for dogs to pirate, will attract Downies to a feeding station.