Search Field Guide
Advanced Search
MT Gov Logo
Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Downy Woodpecker - Dryobates pubescens

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5


Agency Status
USFWS: MBTA
USFS:
BLM:
PIF: 3



External Links






Listen to an Audio Sample
Copyright by Borror Laboratory of Bioacoustics, Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, all rights reserved.
 
General Description
Sexes similar for the most part. Only difference is males have a bright red spot on the back of their head. White and black striped face. White under-belly with black and white checked wings. Relatively small size with smaller, stubbier bill.

For a comprehensive review of the conservation status, habitat use, and ecology of this and other Montana bird species, please see Marks et al. 2016, Birds of Montana.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions

Year-round

Western Hemisphere Range

 


Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 15380

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density

Recency

SUMMER (Feb 16 - Dec 14)
Direct Evidence of Breeding

Indirect Evidence of Breeding

No Evidence of Breeding

WINTER (Dec 15 - Feb 15)
Regularly Observed

Not Regularly Observed


 

(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)



Migration
In Bozeman area, vertical movements observed in fall.

Habitat
Prefers open riparian and deciduous woodlands throughout its entire range. Also uses wooden human-made structures in urban areas.

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
  • Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
    How Associations Were Made
    We associated the use and habitat quality (common or occasional) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
    1. Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2012, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
    2. Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species' range and habitat requirements;
    3. Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point observation database associated with each ecological system;
    4. Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of "observations versus availability of habitat".
    Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.  In general, species were listed as associated with an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.  However, species were not listed as associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system, even if point observations were associated with that system.  Common versus occasional association with an ecological system was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species as represented in scientific literature.  The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignment of common versus occasional association.  If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact the Montana Natural Heritage Program's Senior Zoologist.

    Suggested Uses and Limitations
    Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.  These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at: mtnhp.org/requests) or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.  Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.  Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.  Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).  Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species' known geographic range.

    Literature Cited
    • Adams, R.A.  2003.  Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation.  Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.  289 p.
    • Dobkin, D. S.  1992.  Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Publication No. R1-93-34.  Missoula, MT.
    • Foresman, K.R.  2012.  Mammals of Montana.  Second edition.  Mountain Press Publishing, Missoula, Montana.  429 pp.
    • Hart, M.M., W.A. Williams, P.C. Thornton, K.P. McLaughlin, C.M. Tobalske, B.A. Maxell, D.P. Hendricks, C.R. Peterson, and R.L. Redmond. 1998.  Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates.  Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT.  1302 p.
    • Hutto, R.L. and J.S. Young.  1999.  Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32.  72 p.
    • Maxell, B.A.  2000.  Management of Montana's amphibians: a review of factors that may present a risk to population viability and accounts on the identification, distribution, taxonomy, habitat use, natural history, and the status and conservation of individual species.  Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 1.  Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana.  161 p.
    • Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath.  2004.  Amphibians and reptiles of Montana.  Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 262 p.

Food Habits
Diet consists of insects, fruits, seeds, and tree sap.

Ecology
.

Reproductive Characteristics
Flying young seen in July near Fortine . Statewide nesting occurs in June. Possible multiple broods with four to five eggs per brood. Incubation period twelve days. Young able to fly 20 to 25 days after hatch.

References
  • Literature Cited AboveLegend:   View Online Publication
    • Marks, J.S., P. Hendricks, and D. Casey. 2016. Birds of Montana. Arrington, VA. Buteo Books. 659 pages.
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • American Ornithologists Union. 1983. Checklist of North American birds, 6th Edition. 877 PP.
    • American Ornithologists’ Union [AOU]. 1998. Check-list of North American birds, 7th edition. American Ornithologists’ Union, Washington, D.C. 829 p.
    • Cameron, E. S. 1907. The birds of Custer and Dawson counties, Montana. Auk 24(3): 241-270.
    • Casey, D. 2000. Partners in Flight Draft Bird Conservation Plan Montana. Version 1.0. 287 pp.
    • Debinski, D. M. 1991. Inventory and monitoring of biodiversity: an assessment of methods and a case study of Glacier National Park, MT. Ph.D. Dissertation. Montana State University, Bozeman. 205 p.
    • Dickson, D.C. 1991. Systematic wildlife observations on the Blackfoot-Clearwater Wildlife Management Area. Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Missoula, MT. 14 pp. plus appendices and photographs.
    • Dood, A.R. 1980. Terry Badlands nongame survey and inventory final report. Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks and Bureau of Land Management, Helena, MT. 70 pp.
    • Dresser, M.A. 2015. Demographic responses of woodpeckers in relation to a Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic in the Elkhorn Mountains of Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 71 p.
    • DuBois, K.L. 1979. An inventory of the avifauna in the Long Pines of Southeastern Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 113 p.
    • Ehrlich, P., D. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder’s handbook: a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon and Schuster Inc. New York. 785 pp.
    • Farmer, Pat, and Dean Culwell, Westech, Inc. [Western Technology and Engineering], Helena, MT., 1981, Terrestrial wildlife reconnaissance. March 1981.
    • Flath, Dennis and David Dickson. 1994 Systematic wildlife observations on the Blackfoot-Clearwater Wildlife Management Area 1991-1993. Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
    • Gniadek, S. 1983. Southwest Glendive Wildlife Baseline Inventory. Miles City, Mont: Bureau of Land Management, Miles City District Office. 56 pp with appendices.
    • Goodell, J. 2012. Morse Land Company Breeding Bird Inventory And Analysis. High Desert Museum. Bend, OR. 42 pp + Appendices.
    • Hays, R., R.L. Eng, and C.V. Davis (preparers). 1984. A list of Montana birds. Helena, MT: MT Dept. of Fish, Wildlife & Parks.
    • Hejl, S.J., R.L. Hutto, C.R. Preston, and D.M. Finch. 1995. The effects of silvicultural treatments on forest birds in the Rocky Mountains. pp. 220-244 In: T.E. Martin and D.M. Finch (eds). Ecology and Management of Neotropical Migratory Birds. New York, NY: Oxford Univ. Press. 489 p.
    • Henderson, S. 1997. Effects of fire on avian distributions and patterns of abundance over two vegetation types in southwest Montana : implications for managing fire for biodiversity. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 95 p.
    • Hendricks, P., G.M. Kudray, S. Lenard, and B.A. Maxell. 2007. A Multi-Scale Analysis Linking Prairie Breeding Birds to Site and Landscape Factors Including USGS GAP Data. Helena, Mont: Montana Natural Heritage Program.
    • Hoffman, N.J. 1997. Distribution of Picoides woodpeckers in relation to habitat disturbance within the Yellowstone area. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 74 p.
    • Hutto, Richard L. 1995. "Composition of Bird Communities Following Stand-Replacement Fires in Northern Rocky Mountain (U.S.A.) Conifer Forests". Conservation Biology. 9 (5): 1041-1058.
    • Jackson, J. A., and H. R. Ouellet. 2002. Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens). In The birds of North America, No. 613 (A. Poole and F. Gill, Eds.). Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia and American Ornithologists’ Union.
    • Johnsgard, P.A. 1992. Birds of the Rocky Mountains with particular reference to national parks in the northern Rocky Mountain region. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. xi + 504 pp.
    • Lenard, S. and P. Hendricks. 2005. Birds of selected grassland and riparian plots along the Rocky Mountain Front. Montana Natural Heritage Program for US Fish and Wildlife Service and The Nature Conservancy. 17pp + maps.
    • Lenard, S., J. Carlson, J. Ellis, C. Jones, and C. Tilly. 2003. P. D. Skaar's Montana bird distribution, 6th edition. Montana Audubon, Helena, MT. 144 pp.
    • Li, P., and T. E. Martin. 1991. Nest-site selection and nesting success of cavity-nesting birds in high elevation forest drainages. Auk 108:405-418.
    • Matthews, W.L. 1981. Broadus-Pumpkin Creek baseline inventory - wildlife. Bureau of Land Management, Miles City, MT. 83 p.
    • Maxell, B.A. 2016. Northern Goshawk surveys on the Beartooth, Ashland, and Sioux Districts of the Custer-Gallatin National Forest: 2012-2014. Montana Natural Heritage Program. Helena, MT. 114pp.
    • McClelland, B. R. 1977. Relationships between hole-nesting birds, forest snags and decay in western larch-Douglas fir forests of the northern Rocky Mountains. Ph.D. Thesis., Univ. of Montana, Missoula. 483 pp.
    • Montana Bird Distribution Committee. 2012. P.D. Skaar's Montana bird distribution. 7th Edition. Montana Audubon, Helena, Montana. 208 pp. + foldout map.
    • Mosher, B.A. 2011. Avian community response to a mountain beetle epidemic. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 55 p.
    • MT Fish, Wildlife & Parks. No date. Blackfoot-Clearwater Wildlife Management Area checklist.
    • Newlon, K.R. 2005. Demography of Lewis's Woodpecker, breeding bird densities, and riparian Aspen integrity in a grazed landscape. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 101 p.
    • Oechsli, L.M. 2000. Ex-urban development in the Rocky Mountain West: consequences for native vegetation, wildlife diversity, and land-use planning in Big Sky, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Montana State University, Bozeman. 73 p.
    • Powder River Eagle Studies, Inc., Gillette, WY., 1995, Spring Creek Mine 1994 Wildlife Monitoring Studies. 4/94 to 4/95. Spring Creek Coal Company 1995 Mining Annual Report. Appendix I. May 1995.
    • Powder River Eagle Studies, Inc., Gillette, WY., 2000, Spring Creek Mine 2000 Wildlife Monitoring. March 2000.
    • Ralph, J.C., J.R. Sauer, and S. Droege. 1995. Monitoring bird populations by point counts. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-149. Albany, CA: USDA Pacific Southwest Research Station. 181 p.
    • Richmond, C.W. and F.H. Knowlton. 1894. Birds of south-central Montana. Auk 11:298-308.
    • Rollfinke, B.F., and R.H. Yahner. 1990. Effects of time of day and season on winter bird counts. The Condor 92:215-219.
    • Rundquist, V.M. 1973. Avian ecology on stock ponds in two vegetational types in north-central Montana. Ph.D. Dissertation. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 112 p.
    • Sater, S. 2022. The insects of Sevenmile Creek, a pictorial guide to their diversity and ecology. Undergraduate Thesis. Helena, MT: Carroll College. 242 p.
    • Saunders, A.A. 1914. The birds of Teton and northern Lewis & Clark counties, Montana. Condor 16:124-144.
    • Sedgwick, J.A. and F.L. Knopf. 1986. Cavity-nesting birds and the cavity-tree resource in plains cottonwood bottomlands. Journal of Wildlife Management 50(2):247-252.
    • Sibley, D. 2014. The Sibley guide to birds. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY. 598 pp.
    • Skaar, P. D., D. L. Flath, and L. S. Thompson. 1985. Montana bird distribution. Montana Academy of Sciences Monograph 3(44): ii-69.
    • Skaar, P.D. 1969. Birds of the Bozeman latilong: a compilation of data concerning the birds which occur between 45 and 46 N. latitude and 111 and 112 W. longitude, with current lists for Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, impinging Montana counties and Yellowstone National Park. Bozeman, MT. 132 p.
    • Staebler, A.E. 1949. A Comparative Life History Study of the Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers (Dendrocopus pubescens and D. villosus) Ph.D. Thesis. Univ. Of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
    • Swan River National Wildlife Refuge. 1982. Birds of the Swan River NWR. Kalispell, MT: NW MT Fish and Wildlife Center pamphlet.
    • The Anaconda Co., 1976, Wildlife survey: The Anaconda Company Berkeley Complex 1976 Proposed Permit Area. May 6, 1976.
    • Thomas, J. W. (ed). 1979. Wildlife habitats in managed forests: the Blue Mountains of Oregon and Washington. Agriculture Handbook 553, USDA, Forest Service, Wildlife Management Institute, Washington, DC. 512 pp.
    • Thompson, L.S. 1978. Species abundance and habitat relations of an insular montane avifauna. Condor 80(1):1-14.
    • U.S. Forest Service. 1991. Forest and rangeland birds of the United States: Natural history and habitat use. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Agricultural Handbook 688. 625 pages.
    • Verner, J., and L.V. Ritter. 1985. A comparison of transects and point counts in oak-pine woodlands of California. The Condor 87:47-68.
    • Walcheck, K.C. 1970. Nesting bird ecology of four plant communities in the Missouri River Breaks, Montana. Wilson Bulletin 82(4):370-382.
    • Waldt, R. 1995. The Pine Butte Swamp Preserve bird list. Choteau, MT: The Nature Conservancy. Updated August 1995.
    • Watts, C.R. and L.C. Eichhorn. 1981. Changes in the birds of central Montana. Proceedings of the Montana Academy of Sciences 40:31-40.
    • Westech, Inc. [Western Technology and Engineering]. 1989. Reconnaissance of terrestrial wildlife resources in the Pauper's Dream project vicinity, Aug. 1988. Prepared for Hydrometrics, Inc., Helena, MT. 22 pp.
    • Western Technology and Engineering, Inc., Helena, MT., 1989, Reconnaissance of the wildlife resources in the vicinity of the Kendall Venture Mine. January 1989. In Kendall Venture North Moccasin Project: Amendment to Operating Permit 00122, Fergus County, Montana. Vol. 2, App. A, Feb., 1989.
    • Wetlands West, Inc., Bozeman, MT., and Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2001: Stillwater River, Absarokee, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.032. July 2002. In 2001 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. II.
    • Weydemeyer, W., and D. Weydemeyer. 1928. The woodpeckers of Lincoln County, Montana. Condor 30:339-346.
    • White, C.M., N.J. Van Lanen, D.C. Pavlacky Jr., J.A. Blakesley, R.A. Sparks, J.M.Stenger, J.A. Rehm-Lorber, M.F. McLaren, F. Cardone, J.J. Birek and D.J. Hanni. 2011. Integrated monitoring of bird conservation regions (IMBCR): 2010 Annual Report. Brighton, CO: Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory. 387 p.
    • Zackheim, K. 1973. Exhibit H: Wildlife Study. In Ash Grove Cement Co. files.
  • Web Search Engines for Articles on "Downy Woodpecker"
  • Additional Sources of Information Related to "Birds"
Login Logout
Citation for data on this website:
Downy Woodpecker — Dryobates pubescens.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from