Hairy woodpecker vs downy woodpecker: can you tell them apart?

Here’s what the science says: want to be happier? You need more birdsong in your life.

According to a recent study published in Science Daily, “Europeans are particularly satisfied with their lives if their immediate surroundings host a high species of diversity.”

Joel Methorst, a doctoral researcher at the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, the iDiv, and the Goethe University in Frankfurt, explained that, “according to our findings, the happiest Europeans are those who can experience numerous different bird species in their daily life, or who live in near-natural surroundings that are home to many species.”  

Research suggests that spending more time in nature and with animals can help people relax and even lessen physical and mental stress

And the more birds, the better, according to the study, which analyzed data from the “2012 European quality of Life Survey” on life satisfaction in more than 26,000 adults from 26 European countries. A 10 percent increase in the number of bird species in peoples’ surroundings increased their life satisfaction as much as an extra 10 percent in the bank, the study found. 

I haven’t submitted him to any formal testing, but I’m curious to know if John Tschopp, our bird community leader, feels this. He certainly tries to spread it around. Most recently, John shared a video comparing two of the more popular woodpeckers found in the Pemberton region. Here is a screenshot from it.

When they are on their own, it is sometimes hard to tell which is which. The two species are on my fat feeders. From left to right : male Hairy, male Downy, female Hairy. They are not the only peckers in our yard. The Northern Flicker is a regular visitor and the Red breasted Sapsucker drums daily.

Red breasted sapsucker. Photo by John Tschopp

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