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Gila Woodpecker

ID Info
Silhouette WoodpeckersWoodpeckers
Gila WoodpeckerMelanerpes uropygialis
  • ORDER: Piciformes
  • FAMILY: Picidae

Basic Description

Gila Woodpeckers have a knack for thriving in the nearly treeless desert habitats of the southwestern U.S. and Mexico. While most woodpeckers excavate nest cavities in dead trees, Gila Woodpeckers dig out nest holes in living saguaro cactus that tower above the arid landscape. This neat brownish woodpecker with black-and-white striped back eats insects, berries, and cactus fruit. Once a nesting pair has raised its young, the nest holes become valuable real estate for nesting Elf Owls, pygmy-owls, flycatchers, Cactus Wrens, and other species.

More ID Info
image of range map for Gila WoodpeckerRange map provided by Birds of the WorldExplore Maps

Find This Bird

Gila Woodpeckers are fairly conspicuous and noisy—so finding them is mainly a job of getting into their desert habitats. Get out during the cool morning and look for them on prominent perches, especially on saguaro cactus or in cottonwood trees. Their loud, rolling calls frequently give them away before they are seen.

Other Names

  • Carpintero de Gila (Spanish)
  • Pic des saguaros (French)

Backyard Tips

Gila Woodpeckers may come to backyard feeding stations including tube, platform, and suet feeders. They eat corn, suet, and many types of fruits and nuts, including pecans.

  • Cool Facts

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