Las Pilitas Nursery

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3232 Las Pilitas Rd
Santa Margarita, CA 93453

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Downy Woodpecker, Picoides pubescens

Diet of the Downy woodpecker

They glean ants and beetles from the bark of tees. They also eat fruits, seeds, nuts and cambium. The Downey woodpecker also forages in shrubs.

Migratory status of the Downy Woodpecker

The Downy woodpecker does not migrate, but it may move upslope in the Sierras during the summer.

Niche filled by the downy woodpecker

The Downy woodpecker will forage lower to the ground than most woodpeckers. It can be found in shrubs. Males and females do not compete directly for food by using different foraging behaviors. Females generally pry off bark and glean for insects whereas the males will drill deeper into the wood for insects.

Range of the Downy woodpecker

The Downy woodpecker is found throughout the continental United States and Canada. It is absent from the desert areas in the Southwestern United states.

Reproduction of the Downy woodpecker

Try to dissuade European starlings from interring your garden. They will kick out other bird species from the nest cavities built by woodpeckers. They are quite aggressive. They have been known to wait around until the woodpecker has completed excavation of its nest cavity and then a group of them will gang up on the woodpecker and kick it out of its own nest. One woman said she plunged the cavities early in the breading season when the starlings were looking for nests and then unplugged them after the starlings had moved on. I would not advise this as it evolves climbing in trees and getting squawked at a lot by irritated wildlife.

Habitat/Plant communities used by the Downy woodpecker

The Downy woodpecker is found in most of the plant communities in California excepting the desert and semidesert areas east of the Sierra Nevada range and south of the peninsular range. The Downy woodpecker's favorite habitat is deciduous riparian woodlands.

Downy Woodpecker, Picoides pubescens on a Cottonwood tree at Las Pilitas Nursery.

How to attract the Downy woodpecker to your garden

Downy woodpeckers like young riparian trees for nesting so attracting them to your garden is too big a chore. Just plant a few cottonwood trees or other riparian species and you can have a suitable woodpecker house in only about five years. They will also use these trees for foraging. The downy woodpecker will even tolerate suburban conditions. They do not mind living in towns.