Downy woodpeckers excavate gourd-shaped roosting cavities in the winter from 3 to 50 feet above the ground in dead trees, fence posts or tall stumps whose soft wood is easier to penetrate with their shorter bills. Entrance holes are typically 1¼ inches in diameter. They do not use cavities previously dug by other woodpeckers. These spaces also serve as nesting sites in the spring. They lay 3 to 7 eggs between April (in the South) up to mid-June (in the North). During the 12 day incubation period both parents share nest-sitting and child-rearing duties. Downy couples have one or two broods per year and occasionally stay together for more than one year. Downy woodpeckers will use backyard birdhouses if they have a 4 inch square base and a 1¼ inch entrance hole located about 7 inches above the floor of the box. Provide wood flakes or sawdust inside and mount houses at least 10 feet above ground on a tree or post.
Hairy woodpeckers are able to excavate harder, live wood to create new cavities for nesting and roosting. Both males and females dig the nesting cavity. They lay 3 to 6 white eggs from the beginning of April (in the South) through to the beginning of June (in the North). Both parents incubate the eggs for about 12 days and rear the children. Hairy woodpeckers do not migrate. Hairies require a larger backyard birdhouse--a 6 inch square base and about 15 inches tall. Because they are so large, hairy woodpeckers need oval-shaped entrance holes that are 2 inches or more wide and high located 11 inches up from the base. Partially fill the birdhouse with sawdust or wood chips. Mount it least 10 feet above ground level on a post or tree.
Prospective flicker parents excavate cavities in live or dead trees, fence posts or large cacti. Females lay 5 to 10 eggs about the end of March (in the South) through to the third week in July (in the North). Males help with the 12 day incubation at night and with raising one or two broods but do not return for a second year of mating. Flickers need houses that are at least 7 inches square at the base and 18 inches tall over all with a thick pile of sawdust or small wood chips inside. The opening must be 2½ inches wide and be located 14 inches above the base of the box. Mount boxes facing toward an open area about 8 to 20 feet above the ground.