Skip to main content

Hairy Woodpecker

A bird with a white breast and a black body clings to a tree.
David A. Mitchell/CC BY 2.0



Hairy woodpeckers are a black and white, nearly robin-sized woodpecker. A white stripe extends down the length of the back and each wing is predominately black with rows of small white spots. The length of the bill is approximately equal to the length of the head. The throat, chest and belly are white. Males and females are different in that the males have a small red patch of feathers on the back of the head. This woodpecker is similar in appearance to the downy woodpecker. The length of the bill is the easiest way to tell the species apart. When comparing the length of the bill against the length of the head, the downy woodpecker’s bill will be shorter than the length of its head, while the hairy woodpecker’s bill will be equal to or longer than the length of its head.


7-10 inches long. 13-16 inch wingspan.


This is an uncommon woodpecker but is found in many types of mature forest habitat (oak, pine, cottonwood). It is usually found in areas where there are large tracts of forest. It is uncommon in urban or residential areas except in eastern Oklahoma. It occurs nearly statewide except for most of the panhandle and the extreme southwestern corner. This species does not migrate so the wintering and nesting ranges are the same.

Life Cycle

Hairy woodpeckers are usually seen alone, but sometimes in pairs. It usually remains close to trees and forested areas where it forages on tree trunks and along larger tree limbs.

Explore more Oklahoma Birds

Western Sandpiper.  Photo by Jeremia Zurenda
Photo by: Jeremiah Zurenda
Eastern towhee; Bill Thompson/USFWS
Photo by: Bill Thompson/USFWS
American goldfinch; Bill Horn
Photo by: Bill Horn