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.
The Downy woodpecker does not migrate, but it may move upslope in the Sierras during the summer.
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.
The Downy woodpecker is found throughout the continental United States and Canada. It is absent from the desert areas in the Southwestern United states.
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 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.