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Gila Woodpecker

Melanerpes uropygialis ORDER: PICIFORMES FAMILY: PICIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A conspicuous resident in the deserts of the Southwest and Mexico, the Gila Woodpecker is a characteristic bird of the saguaro cactus forests.

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At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
9.4 in
24 cm
Wingspan
16.1 in
41 cm
Weight
1.8–2.8 oz
51–79 g
Other Names
  • Pic des saguaros (French)
  • Carpintero de Gila, Carpintero del desierto (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • When a pair of Gila Woodpeckers excavates a nest hole in a saguaro cactus, it typically does not use it for several months. Drying time is required for the inner pulp of the cactus to form a solid casing around the cavity.
  • The male Gila Woodpecker forages mainly on the trunk and main branches of saguaro cacti, while the female concentrates on the periphery and diseased areas.

Habitat


Deserts

Found in deserts that have large cacti or trees suitable for nesting (especially saguaro cactus), dry subtropical forests, riparian woodlands, and residential areas.

Food


Omnivore

Insects, fruit, seeds, occasional birds' eggs, and lizards.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
2–7 eggs
Egg Description
White.
Condition at Hatching
Naked and helpless.
Nest Description

Hole in saguaro cactus or tree. Cavity unlined.

Nest Placement

Cavity

Behavior


Bark Forager

Gleans insects from bark, probes into holes and dead wood, takes food from ground.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Populations may be slightly declining. Threatened by human development of Sonoran Desert and by competition for nest sites with European Starlings.

Credits

  • Edwards, H. H., and G. D. Schnell. 2000. Gila Woodpecker (Melanerpes uropygialis). In The Birds of North America, No. 532 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

Range Map Help

Gila Woodpecker Range Map
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