Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villous)

The Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villous) is a black and white bird of the Woodpecker Family (Picidae) and order Piciformes. This species of woodpecker is often confused with the Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens), which is a common woodpecker in the city and suburbia. However, the Downey Woodpecker tends to avoid forests whereas the Hairy Woodpecker prefers forests and dense woods and avoids areas heavily populated by people. The species differ in three ways. The Hairy Woodpecker has a pure white back (see the photograph below) but the back of the Downy Woodpecker is spotted. The Hairy Woodpecker also has a longer bill and longer body than the Downy Woodpecker. The order name, family name  and the genus name is from the Latin, "picus," meaning "woodpecker." The species name, villous, is Latin for "hairy." The species name, pubescens, is from the Latin for "downy."

This woodpecker grows to about nine inches (23 centimeters) long. The male has a red patch on its head. The Hairy Woodpecker eats insects that bore into wood thereby controlling disease in trees. These insects are usually extracted from their holes by the Hairy Woodpecker's long, barbed tongue as opposed to capture by the bill. It will also remove insects residing in wooden structures. The pounding of its bill on buildings is remarkably loud and alarming particularly when the inhabitants of the building are trying to sleep. However, the Hairy Woodpeckers are very beneficial and will leave buildings when they detect the presence of people unlike Downy Woodpeckers that may ignore people. The female lays four, white eggs in a tree hole. Their call is a loud "peek." These birds will hammer on a tree limb as part of their mating ritual. 

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