Pennsylvania Game News - February 2019 - 62

and climbed a walnut tree before flying
away might have been the same one that
returned a couple days later with a female,
as the pair joined two red-bellied woodpeckers poking for food in the refrozen
yard.
In late February, I heard, then found,
a pair of hairy woodpeckers engaged
in courtship behavior, high in a tree on
Greenbrier Trail. They extended their
necks, bills pointing upward, heads bobbing from side to side, and they flicked
their wings as they circled the trunk.
I doubted this was the same pair that
visited our yard because studies show, in
mature upland forest, a pair's territory
averages 6.5 acres.
However, during winter, hairy woodpeckers in Michigan have territories of
800 acres, which is larger than our squaremile property.
And while some studies find that hairy
pairs have separate winter territories and
renew their pair bonds in early spring,
other studies find that pairs remain
together throughout the winter.
In early March, we watched our yardvisiting pair join a meet-up that included
a pair each of downy and red-bellied
woodpeckers. They appeared interested in
a nesting cavity 30 feet high in the black
walnut tree.
The hairies eventually retreated to the
ground, poked their bills at black walnut
remnants and flew away.
That was the last we saw them in our
yard, but I continued the rest of the year
to see them in our forest, and hear their
explosive peek calls.
Hairy woodpeckers are related to
downy woodpeckers, and in 2018, the
American Ornithological Society changed
their genus name, along with that of six
62

other North American woodpeckers, from
Picoides back to Dryobates.
The Picoides genus had lumped these
four-toed woodpeckers with other threetoed woodpeckers, and anatomical as well
as genetic differences between the groups
also led to the change.
While hairy and downy woodpeckers
look similar, one study found they are
not closely related. Downies belong to a
group of four small Dryobates, while hairies are in a group of four larger Dryobates.
But neither woodpecker resembles
others in its group as much as it resembles
the other.
Some researchers believe downy
woodpeckers developed imitative plumage to avoid attacks from hairy woodpeckers - the so-called "Hairy Woodpecker
Trickery" hypothesis. But a recent study
by three Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology scientists seems to disprove that
theory. Studying hairy and downy woodpeckers at feeders, the researchers found
hairies often targeted downies and chased
them from feeders.
Still, downies were unusually dominant when competing with larger birds,
such as northern cardinals. And scientists
hypothesize downies might use their
resemblance to hairies to fool other species - the so-called "Innocent Bystander
Trickery" hypothesis.
Both woodpeckers have white breasts
and backs, black-and-white striped heads,
black wings spotted with white, and
white outer tail feathers, but the hairy
woodpecker is about 9 inches while the
downy is 6.
Hairies have much heavier and longer
bills and usually lack the black markings
on the outer tail feathers that are characteristic of downies. The males of both
species have a red patch on the backs of
their heads and the females do not.



Pennsylvania Game News - February 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Pennsylvania Game News - February 2019

Contents
Pennsylvania Game News - February 2019 - Cover1
Pennsylvania Game News - February 2019 - Cover2
Pennsylvania Game News - February 2019 - Contents
Pennsylvania Game News - February 2019 - 2
Pennsylvania Game News - February 2019 - 3
Pennsylvania Game News - February 2019 - 4
Pennsylvania Game News - February 2019 - 5
Pennsylvania Game News - February 2019 - 6
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Pennsylvania Game News - February 2019 - 21
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Pennsylvania Game News - February 2019 - 64
Pennsylvania Game News - February 2019 - Cover3
Pennsylvania Game News - February 2019 - Cover4
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