There are at least two different explanations as to why our smallest woodpecker is named the downy woodpecker.
Some say the bird’s name refers to the downy white feathers that run down its back. These feathers contrast with the thicker, dark feathers that cover the rest of the bird’s back.
Others suggest that the bird is named for the downy nasal feathers seen around the base of the bird’s bill.
This is one of my favorite woodpeckers. The other woodpecker is the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. They are wonderful birds to watch. I have, I know, at least a pair of Downys that visit my feeders just about every day.
I agree Martha – the downy is one of my favorites too.