Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Nuttall's Woodpecker

I just saw Nuttall's woodpeckers for the first time in May at Big Morongo Preserve, on two Saturdays, but all at the same bird feeder in the host's space. I'm surprised to find that they have a range limited to portions of California and just a bit into Baja California, Mexico. 

Both males and females have black wings and tail feathers with white barring, except for a region of black at the top of the back (which differentiates it from a ladder-backed woodpecker where the white barring goes higher). The underside is white with black spots and barring. They have a black head with thin white facial stripes, one above and one below the eye. Adult males have a red patch toward the back of the head (which distinguishes it from adult male ladder-backed woodpeckers which have a red patch that goes further forward on the head). Females do not have the red patch. The closely related ladder-backed woodpecker has a much larger range which extends eastward into Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and deep into Mexico. Their range overlaps a little bit in California. 

They are non-migratory and eat primarily insect larvae, ants, berry seeds and sap from birch and willow trees. Interestingly, the are primarily found in oak habitat.

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