Nuttall’s Woodpecker

Nuttall's Woodpecker Picture

Nuttall’s Woodpecker

A Nuttall’s Woodpecker is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Nuttall’s Woodpeckers. We have also put together a list of fun Nuttall’s Woodpecker t-shirts, Nuttall’s Woodpecker bird patches, birdhouses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers, and other fun bird watching items.

About Nuttall’s Woodpeckers

The Nuttall’s Woodpecker is a year-round resident of the southern regions of the USA and Mexico. These birds also frequent the desert areas. This species is endemic to oak and mixed woodlands near water sources and has been known to inhabit conifer trees as well.

Description and Identification

Nuttall’s Woodpeckers are small at a length of 6.3 – 7.1 inches and a wingspan of 13 – 16
inches. They have a chisel-shaped bill and a small, rounded head, a flat back, and an
elongated body. These birds have black-and-white stripes on their bodies, with both sexes
having two narrow white stripes across their cheeks and narrow black-and-white horizontal
bars on their back. Their upper back has a solid black patch while their underparts are
whitish with spotted and barred flanks. Males have a distinct red cap on their crowns while
juveniles have grayish underparts with some red on the head.

Nuttall’s Woodpecker Size

  • Length: the birds have an average length of 6 to 8 inches.
  • Weight: a fully matured woodpecker weighs an average of 31 grams
  • Wingspan: this bird species has an average wingspan of 10 to 12 inches

Nuttall’s Woodpecker Appearance

This small, black, and white woodpecker is known for its beautifully marked black wings and white-barred tail feathers. The throat, breast, belly are white with small amounts of black spotting on the sides of the breast and flanks. It has a whitish crown. The scapular area of the upper back is solid black. Adult males display a striking red patch on the rear of the crown and upper nape. The bill is short and black, while the legs and feet are gray.

Nuttall’s Woodpecker Feeding

Like most woodpeckers, these birds are omnivorous and consume plant and animal material
in their diets. However, they do not feed on acorns despite spending most of their time in oak
woodlands. Instead, they can be found eating fruit like elderberries, poison oak, and
blackberries. Their animal prey mainly involves small insects found on the barks of oaks,
cottonwoods, and willows; these insects include beetles and beetle larvae, ants, millipedes,
termites, and caterpillars. They forage by probing into the bark to reach insects or by picking
them off with their bills.

These birds usually forage for fruits, destructive insects, and arthropods it finds on oak trees. The Nuttall’s Woodpecker also pries off barks of trees to look for insects.

Nuttall’s Woodpecker Habitat

The preferred habitat of these birds is arid to mesic woodlands, particularly the oak
woodlands of California. However, they also occur in riparian sites and in chaparral in the
southern parts of its range. They can be found in elevations around 900 – 5,500 feet but can
be seen as high up as 6,600 feet on rare occasions. These birds can also be spotted taking
advantage of wooded suburban areas and woodlands near streams, especially in the more
southern parts of their range as oak trees become less abundant.

The preferred habitat is the area that is arid to music (having a moderate supply of moisture) and those spaces containing scrub oaks and streamside foliage.

Range and Migration

Named after the 19th-century naturalist Thomas Nuttall, Nuttall’s Woodpeckers are found in
the oak woodlands of California. They are very similar to Ladder-backed Woodpeckers in
both appearance and genetics, but their ranges do not overlap at all. Nuttall’s Woodpeckers
are permanent residents of their habitats and have a limited range extending from northern
California to the north-western region of Baja California in Mexico. These birds are
considered to be endemic to California.

Nuttall’s Woodpecker Life and Behavior

It is not uncommon for pairs of this species of woodpeckers to remain together for more than one nesting season. The nest is built by both sexes 6 meters from the ground in a standing dead tree. The female lays an average of 4 to 6 white eggs each season. Both the male and female incubate the eggs for about two weeks. The young ones are looked after by both parents and leave the nest a month after hatching.

Nuttall’s Woodpecker Nesting

These birds can be found nesting in excavated holes in the dead trunks or limbs of willows,
oaks, cottonwoods, sycamores, oaks, and alder. Since males have slightly larger beaks, they excavate at the trunks and limbs by themselves in order to create an entrance that is around 2 inches wide. The interior of the cavity is relatively much larger, with the depth being around 11 inches deep. The bottom of the hole is typically layered with wood chips and some vegetation that can provide some cushioning and insulation for the clutch size of 3 – 6
eggs. These woodpeckers do not reuse their cavities and create new ones each year.


Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes

At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.

Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Nuttall’s Woodpeckers

The most common types of bird-watching binoculars for viewing Nuttall’s Woodpeckers are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.

Nuttall’s Woodpecker T-shirts

If you love the Nuttall’s Woodpecker you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.

Nuttall’s Woodpecker Iron On Patches

Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron-on patches. Our bird-watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen and identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.

The Nuttall’s Woodpecker is a great iron-on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.

Nuttall’s Woodpecker Stickers

Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Nuttall’s Woodpecker. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.

Bird Feeders for Nuttall’s Woodpeckers

There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.

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