The zippy little downy is both the smallest and the most common woodpecker in North America and is a common sight in our area. Most do not migrate, although northern birds may move a bit further south in the winter, and birds at higher elevations may move downslope.
The short bill of the downy woodpecker is built for chipping nesting cavities out of trees as well as for foraging for insects and their larvae. The sturdy beak is also used to drum out mating calls and warnings on any available resonant surface—including street signs and telephone poles. The unmistakable drumming sound can carry for great distances, much to the chagrin of any nearby humans trying to sleep.
The preferred nesting and foraging sites for downy woodpeckers are "snags"—dead trees which are still standing. The birds also carry a broader environmental impact, as they abandon their nests after the breeding season, providing homes for other woodland species which are happy to move in. While numbers for the downy woodpecker are currently stable, the ongoing health of future populations will rely in part on woodland management that includes the retention of snags for this and other cavity-nesting species.