Nuttall's Woodpecker

(Picoides nuttallii)

Named after naturalist Thomas Nuttall in 1843, the Nuttall's woodpecker resides primarily in California (although a few can be found a short distance into Baja and rarely in Oregon). They reside year round in their oak grove chaparral habitat foraging for insects among the trees. Members of a bonded pair remain together most all year. As primary cavity nesters that do not reuse their nest site year to year, they excavate new holes in live or dead trees like cottonwoods, willows, sycamores or even utility poles. These spaces later prove useful as nest sites to other similar sized bird species within the habitat.

Nuttall's Woodpecker
(Recorded 9-19-16 sunset -- sounds made as bird entered shelter for the night--it is believed that individual in photo is the same as in the recording.)

Appears similar to the Ladder-Backed woodpecker. Male & female juveniles both have red crowns. Adult males have a red crown while adult females do not.

Length: males & females = 6.3 to 7.1 inches.

Weight: males & females = 1.1 to 1.6 oz.

Diet consists of insects, spiders, some fruits, poison oak berries, and some seeds/nuts (although it commonly forages among oak groves it only rarely eats acorns). Also feeds on sap from sap holes created by Red-breasted Sapsuckers in birch and willows. Obtains food items by gleaning, probing, prying and tapping on the bark of trees. Occasionally birds will catch insects in flight. Division of feeding areas sometimes occurs with male birds foraging on the trunk and major limbs of a tree while the female birds forage on minor branches and twigs.

Nests in cavity in trees usually 3 to 35 ft above the ground (sometimes up to 60' or higher). A new nest cavity is used every year. Male does most of the excavating of nest.

Clutch size: 3 to 6 white eggs.

Incubation: ~ 14 days. Female incubates the eggs during the day and the male incubates them at night and part of the day.

Fledging ~ 29 days to leave the nest. Parental care may continue for 14 days after that.


  1. "Nuttall's Woodpecker, Life History". All about birds, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved October, 2016.
  2. "Nuttall's Woodpecker". Audubon Guide to North American Birds. Retrieved October, 2016.
  3. "Nuttall's Woodpecker". Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved October, 2016.