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Nuttall's Woodpecker

ID Info
Silhouette WoodpeckersWoodpeckers
Nuttall's WoodpeckerDryobates nuttallii
  • ORDER: Piciformes
  • FAMILY: Picidae

Basic Description

In California's oak woodlands the small black-and-white striped Nuttall's Woodpecker hitches up branches and twigs of oaks, willows, and cottonwoods. It circles around branches in search of food and sometimes perches crosswise on a twig much like a sparrow might do. This year-round resident gives a metallic rattle and high-pitched pit most of the year. It looks very similar to the Ladder-backed Woodpecker, but there's almost no range overlap. The horizontal stripes across its back set it apart from Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers.

More ID Info
image of range map for Nuttall's Woodpecker
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

California's oak woodlands are the place to look for Nuttall's Woodpeckers. If you find an oak tree in California, even in suburban areas, there's a chance that a Nuttall's Woodpecker will be around. These small woodpeckers don't just forage on trunks and branches, they also forage on tiny stems in willows and alders where they might look more like a sparrow messing around in a shrub than a woodpecker. You'll probably hear the dry rattle before you see a Nuttall's Woodpecker, which will help you pinpoint its location. When they rattle they usually stay put, giving you time to find them.

Other Names

  • Pico de Nuttall (Spanish)
  • Pic de Nuttall (French)

Backyard Tips

If you live in California's oak woodlands, putting up a suet feeder may bring a Nuttall's Woodpecker to your yard. Learn more about suet feeders at Project FeederWatch. Plant native trees and shrubs that will grow in your area to create friendly habitat for Nuttall's Woodpeckers and other species.

  • Cool Facts