Hairy Woodpecker - Dryobates villosus
A medium-sized woodpecker with (in most areas) a white back, white-spotted black wings (spotting is reduced in Rocky Mountains), a relatively large bill, white underparts, and a black head with two large white bars on each side; tail is black centrally, white on the sides; plumage that is white in most of the range is pale gray-brown in the Pacific Northwest; adult males have a red bar across the back of the head, young males have an orange or red-streaked crown; juveniles (particularly in Maritime Provinces) have some dark barring on the bank and flanks; average length 24 cm.
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.
Differs from the Downy Woodpecker in larger size (average length 24 cm vs. 17 cm), larger bill (about as long as head vs. obviously shorter than head), absence of black bars or spots on outer tail feathers (downy generally has spots), and sharper call note ("peek!" vs. "pik"). Differs from Three-toed and Black-backed Woodpeckers in lacking dark barring on the sides (may be present on flanks of juveniles).
Western Hemisphere Range
Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations:
(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version)
Map Help and Descriptions
SUMMER (Feb 16 - Dec 14)
Direct Evidence of Breeding
Indirect Evidence of Breeding
No Evidence of Breeding
WINTER (Dec 15 - Feb 15)
Not Regularly Observed
(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)
Migration not observed, although vertical migration to valleys is seen in late September (Skaar 1969).
In forest burns near Missoula, birds chose larch over Douglas-fir and ponderosa pine for nesting (Harvey 1982). Primarily a forest bird; widely distributed in regions where mature woodlands prevalent. Also occurs in small woodlots, wooded parks, cemeteries, shaded residential areas, and other urban areas with mature shade trees, but often scarce within these habitats (Jackson et al. 2002).
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:
- 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);
- Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species' range and habitat requirements;
- Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point observation database associated with each ecological system;
- 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.
- 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.
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- 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.
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- 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.
- Commonly Associated with these Ecological Systems
Forest and Woodland Systems
Human Land Use
Recently Disturbed or Modified
Wetland and Riparian Systems
- Occasionally Associated with these Ecological Systems
Forest and Woodland Systems
Wetland and Riparian Systems
Tree surface and subsurface arthropods and a diversity of fruits and seeds. Readily comes to feeders (Jackson et al. 2002).
In Glacier National Park, birds were found feeding on an epidemic population of mountain pine beetles. Of 8 nesting pairs, one nested in lodgepole pine, the rest in aspen.
Cavity nester. In western North America, more often in large dead stubs or in some areas in aspen with fungal decay. Eggs are oval to elliptical-oval, shiny white in color and somewhat translucent when fresh. Two independent studies list clutch size mean as 3.93 eggs and 4.09 eggs (Jackson et al. 2002). Near Fortine, young in nests seen from May 18 to June 26; flying young seen June 28 (valleys) and July 27 (mountains). Statewide, nesting records are for June (Davis 1961).
- Literature Cited AboveLegend: View Online Publication
- Davis, C.V. 1961. A distributional study of the birds of Montana. Ph.D. Dissertation. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University. 462 p.
- Harvey, G.E. 103 Dakota Avenue, Whitefish, Montana 59337. Personal communication to the Montana Natural Heritage Program.
- Jackson, J. A., H. R. Ouellet, and B. J. Jackson. 2002. Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus). In The birds of North America, No. 702 (A. Poole and F. Gill, Eds.). Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia and American Ornithologists’ Union.
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- Additional ReferencesLegend: View Online Publication
Do you know of a citation we're missing?
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- Additional Sources of Information Related to "Birds"