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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.

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.
  • Then oldest recorded Gila Woodpecker was a male in Arizona, who was at least 7 years, 9 months old.

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

Gila Woodpecker populations declined by about 49% between 1966 and 2014, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 1.6. million birds, with 28% living in the U.S., and 72% in Mexico. The species rates a 10 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score and is not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List. These woodpeckers are threatened by human development of Sonoran Desert and by competition for nest sites with European Starlings.

Credits

Range Map Help

Gila Woodpecker Range Map
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