Nuttalls Woodpecker (Picoides nuttallii)

Nuttalls Woodpecker

[order] PICIFORMES | [family] Picidae | [latin] Picoides nuttallii | [UK] Nuttalls Woodpecker | [FR] Pic menuisier | [DE] Nuttallspecht | [ES] Carpinterillo Californiano (Mex) | [NL] Nuttalls Specht


Monotypic species

Physical charateristics

The only black and white, “zebra-backed” woodpecker with a i black and white i striped face normally found in Californiawest of the Sierra. Males have red caps.

Listen to the sound of Nuttalls Woodpecker

[audio: Woodpecker.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

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North America : California


Wooded canyons and foothills, river woods, groves, orchard
In much of range almost always around oaks, especially where oaks meet other trees along rivers, also in pine-oak woods in foothills. In southern California, also in riverside cottonwoods, sycamores, willows,
even if no oaks present. At eastern edge of range may venture out into mesquite or other dry woods.


Members of pair may remain more or less together all year. Displays (used in territory defense and courtship) include raising head feathers, bobbing head, swinging head from side to side, and a fluttering display flight.
b Nest: Site is cavity in live or dead tree, usually cottonwood, willow, or sycamore near oak woods, sometimes in utility pole, fence post, or oak or other tree. Cavity usually 3-
35′ above ground, sometimes up to 60′ or higher. Male does most of excavating; new nest cavity every year. No nest material other than wood chips in cavity.
b Eggs: 3-4, up to 6. White. Incubation is by both sexes (with male incubating at night and part of day), about 14 days.
b Young: Both parents feed young. Young leave nest about 4 weeks after hatching, may remain with parents for several weeks thereafter.

Feeding habits

Mostly insects.
Feeds on a wide variety of insects, especially beetles, also caterpillars, ants, true bugs. Also eats some nuts, seeds, fruits, berries. Despite close association with oaks, eats only small numbers of acorns.
b Behavior: Forages mainly in dense trees such as oaks and ceanothus, also in cottonwood, willow, sycamore, and others; sometimes in yuccas, mesquites (at eastern margin of
range). The sexes sometimes forage differently in trees, with males focusing on trunk and major limbs, females working on minor branches and twigs. Occasionally catches insects in flight.


This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Nuttalls Woodpecker status Least Concern


Resident in California, northwestern Baja California.
b Migration: Permanent resident throughout its range, rarely wandering any distance from nesting areas.

Distribution map

Nuttalls Woodpecker distribution range map

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