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White-headed Woodpecker


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

The White-headed Woodpecker is a bird of the pine forests of the far western mountains where it makes a living digging into unopened pine cones and eating the seeds. It is the only North American bird that has a white head and a black body.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
8.3–9.1 in
21–23 cm
1.9–2.3 oz
55–65 g
Other Names
  • Pic à tête blanche (French)
  • Carpintero cabeza blanca (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The White-headed Woodpecker, like most woodpeckers, nests in holes in trees. This species prefers to make holes in dead trees, snags, stumps, and even leaning and fallen logs.
  • When a White-headed Woodpecker forages at pine cones it usually clings to the sides and bottoms of the cone to avoid making direct body contact with the sticky sap. The woodpecker wedges a large intact pine seed into a crevice in the bark of the tree where it will hammer the seed to break it apart.
  • Both the male and female incubate the eggs, with the male doing all the nighttime work. They are very attentive to each other during incubation, and often communicate by soft drumming from both inside and outside the nest cavity.
  • The oldest recorded White-headed Woodpecker was a female, and at least 4 years, 1 month old, when she was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Washington.



Montane coniferous forests dominated by pines.



Insects and conifer seeds.


Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
2–9 eggs
Egg Description
Condition at Hatching
Naked and helpless.
Nest Description

Nest in cavity in tree, usually a dead tree.

Nest Placement



Bark Forager

Pecks and flakes bark, probes in cracks. Rarely hammers deep into wood. Clings to unopened pine cones and chips open the scales to get at the seeds. Sometimes flycatches.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

White-headed Woodpecker populations appear stable and may have experienced a small increase between 1966 and 2014, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 150,000, with 100% living in the U.S. This U.S.-Canada Stewardship species rates a 12 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score and is not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List. Although numbers of this woodpecker seem stable, conservation status is considered sensitive in several states.


Range Map Help

White-headed Woodpecker Range Map
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