Fun Little Woodpecker Facts For Kids

Arpitha Rajendra
Feb 29, 2024 By Arpitha Rajendra
Originally Published on Sep 02, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
Read more fun little woodpecker facts here.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.2 Min

The little woodpecker (Veniliornis passerinus) is a common bird species of the Picidae family. This species has olive-green, buff, white, and gray colors on the body. This woodpecker is widely spread around the east of Andes, South America. This small bird lacks the contrasting yellow-colored nape present in other members of this genus. Mathurin Jacques Brisson, a French zoologist, included a description of this bird in 1760 in his Ornithologie that was based on a sample of species collected in Saint-Domingue. This species was formerly named Picus passerinus, named by Carl Linnaeus. The specific term 'passerinus' has Latin origins, and it means 'sparrow-like'. These woodpeckers were later placed in the current genus, Veniliornis, by Charles Lucien Bonaparte, a French ornithologist in 1854. Veniliornis has been formed by combining the name of the Roman deity, Venilia, and the Greek term 'ornis', meaning 'bird'. There are 14 species within this genus. This woodpecker belongs to the tribe Melanarpini within the subfamily Picinae. There are five tribes within Picinae. There are 238 woodpeckers within 36 genera in the world.

If you find little woodpeckers interesting, then do check out some facts about black cuckoo and common swift facts on Kidadl.

Little Woodpecker Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a little woodpecker?

The little woodpecker (Veniliornis passerinus) is a small bird of the order Piciformes, family Picidae,  and phylum Chordata. Some relative or similar species of this bird are hairy woodpeckers (Leuconotopicus villosus) and downy woodpeckers (Dryobates pubescens) and both species are North American birds. This woodpecker can be found foraging from a level of low undergrowth to high up in trees. This bird uses its bill to tap and chisel on hard surfaces of branches, trunks, and barks. This woodpecker is a resident of their natural range of habitats. There are nine subspecies of little woodpecker birds. This bird relies on flight to move from one place to another.

What class of animal does a little woodpecker belong to?

The little woodpecker (Veniliornis passerinus) of the order Piciformes, family Picidae belongs to the class of Aves of animals.

How many little woodpeckers are there in the world?

The exact population of little woodpeckers in the world is not known. However, with a status of Least Concern, we know they are in abundance and that they have a stable population.

Where does a little woodpecker live?

Veniliornis passerinus occupies a large part of a north-eastern range of South America towards the east of the Andes mountains. The V. p. olivinus subspecies of the little woodpecker is found in southern Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, north-west, and north-east Argentina. North American birds like the downy woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens) occupies a habitat range in Canada and the United States. The other similar species, the hairy woodpecker (Leuconotopicus villosus) can be found in Canada, El Salvador, Bahamas, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, the United States, Mexico, Panama, Nicaragua, Saint Pierre, and Miquelon.

What is a little woodpecker's habitat?

These woodpeckers can be found in forest areas with wooded habitats or woodlands. They also prefer mangrove, caatinga, bamboo trees and gardens, parks, and savanna as these woodpeckers are attracted to nut feeders or suet feeds. These birds occupy an elevation of around 4,265 ft (1,300 m) and descend during winter. However, their relatives, downy woodpeckers and hairy woodpeckers, occupy deciduous forests. Also in winter, the downy woodpecker moves to suburban backyards that have mature trees.

Who do little woodpeckers live with?

These woodpeckers search for food on their own, in pairs, or in small groups of birds. Sometimes they even join a search group of non-related species of birds.

How long does a little woodpecker live?

These woodpeckers live up to four years, while its relative, the downy woodpecker lives for a little longer and reaches an age of five years. The hairy woodpecker species lives for only three years.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding season of these woodpeckers varies with range. The male alone excavates the nest out of bamboo, palm, or stub trees, 16.4-42.6 ft (5-13 m) above the ground. These birds breed in deciduous forests. The nest-building behavior and clutch size produced by females are not clearly known. However, comparing little woodpeckers with a relative of these birds, downy woodpecker pairs form by late winter and the female lays around four to five eggs. The nest entrance is usually surrounded by lichen or fungus.

Both females and males often feed insects to their young. After leaving the nest, the young might often join the adult male and female. These species attract male or female birds by drumming continuously on dead trees.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of little woodpeckers is listed as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. These birds are also common in their natural ranges. They might face threats from deforestation. Also, forest fires and the use of insecticides may destroy food sources.

Little Woodpecker Fun Facts

What do little woodpeckers look like?

These woodpeckers are a common small bird species. The upper parts of the nominate male birds are bronze olive-green color with conspicuous pale barring on the rump and red-tipped feathers. There are white spots on the median coverts of their wings. They have brown flight feathers with green edges that are broader on tertials and secondaries. They have dark brown upper-tail feathers with vividly barred outer rectrices. These woodpeckers have dark olive underparts barred with buff-white. There are white and olive-brown bars on their underwings. These birds have gray foreheads and heads. The males show a red fore-crown on the head and neck that has a dark feather base. There are pale tips on the neck of these woodpeckers. The rest of the head of these birds is dark brown-olive. Their throat and chin have white bars. The bill is gray, long, and straight that has a pale lower mandible. These birds have dark brown eyes with dark gray feet and legs. There are records of these birds showing red colors on their back.

The female does not have a red crown. Female woodpeckers have gray olive-brown with paler spots. Young woodpeckers resemble adults, but are paler and have paler eyes and fewer bronze underparts. These woodpeckers have a dull red crown patch that is often seen in both sexes and smaller in juvenile female birds. V. p. olivinus males have a restricted red-colored patch on their nape and hind crown. Female woodpeckers of these subspecies are similar to nominate birds. All the other subspecies differ in red patches on the male, several bars and spots, and facial patterns.

Little woodpeckers can easily adapt to various woodlands.

How cute are they?

These common woodpeckers are considered cute due to their size and bright colors.

How do they communicate?

These woodpeckers, like the downy woodpecker species, communicate through calls or songs, body language, drumming, and visuals. These species display by spreading their wings and tail feathers in flight. When excited, their calls or songs are ra epetitive 'wicka'. They also produce a short drum and a long 'ki-ki-ki' when they are territorial. To attract mates, they also drum on trees.

How big is a little woodpecker?

This species is 5.5-5.9 in (14-15 cm) in length. However, the downy woodpecker species is 5.5-7.1 in (14-18 cm) in length. Ivory-billed woodpeckers are four times the length of little woodpeckers.

How fast can a little woodpecker fly?

The flight speed of these woodpeckers is not known. You can spot black and white woodpeckers that have an undulating flight.

How much does a little woodpecker weigh?

The weight of this species is 0.05-0.08 lb (24-37 g). The downy woodpecker is around 0.04-0.07 lb (20-33 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There is no specific name given to female and male little woodpeckers.

What would you call a baby little woodpecker?

There is no specific name given to a baby little woodpecker.

What do they eat?

These birds search for their food on branches and trunks using their bill. They feed on insects like ants, termites, caterpillars, and beetles. They also feed on seeds, suet, and carrions.

Are they dangerous?

No, this bird is not dangerous.

Would they make a good pet?

No, these birds would not make good pets.

Did you know...

The tail feathers of birds in the woodpecker species are hardy and strong. Their feathers help them cling to trunks and branches.

Most woodpeckers have a red patch on their head, however red-headed woodpecker is unmistakable with a bright red head.

A downy woodpecker roosts in cavities carved out in trees in the winter season. The downy woodpecker also searches for food by picking at the surface of barks in summer and digging even deeper in winter.

Do little woodpeckers migrate?

No, these birds are not migratory but might descend to lower areas in winter. Some species of downy woodpeckers might migrate to southern areas.

What is unique about little woodpeckers?

These little woodpeckers unlike other species of the same genus, do not have yellow nape. Some might even have a red feather on their back and tail.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these Anna's hummingbird facts and flycatcher facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable bird coloring pages.

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Written by Arpitha Rajendra

Bachelor of Engineering specializing in Aeronautical/Aerospace Technology, Master of Business Administration specializing in Management

Arpitha Rajendra picture

Arpitha RajendraBachelor of Engineering specializing in Aeronautical/Aerospace Technology, Master of Business Administration specializing in Management

With a background in Aeronautical Engineering and practical experience in various technical areas, Arpitha is a valuable member of the Kidadl content writing team. She did her Bachelor's degree in Engineering, specializing in Aeronautical Engineering, at Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology in 2020. Arpitha has honed her skills through her work with leading companies in Bangalore, where she contributed to several noteworthy projects, including the development of high-performance aircraft using morphing technology and the analysis of crack propagation using Abaqus XFEM.

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