California Loves Our Nuttall’s Woodpeckers

by Larry Jordan on March 13, 2012

Nuttall’s Woodpecker (Picoides nuttallii) Male photos by Larry Jordan

This little woodpecker would be a California endemic if Baja California belonged to the United States. They are cavity nesters in our oak woodlands feeding primarily on insects but they also add nuts and seeds to their diet as well as sap.

This fellow has decided to visit my woodpecker feeder occasionally, making me a very happy birder (click on photos for full sized images).

I can hear him coming and always stop what I’m doing to observe. His voice is distinctive and so is his drumming. This recording from Xeno Canto by Thomas Graves is an excellent one of this bird’s drumming with the distinctive call at the end.

The male has the red patch extending from the mid-crown back to the nape as you can see as this guy tries to get a nut out of the feeder.

He has been grabbing a few smaller nuts with those crazy contortions.

But in the end, he gets a real prize. It looks like he’s smiling doesn’t it?

Just about two years ago, at the end of May, I found a nesting pair of Nuttall’s Woodpeckers on my property and photographed them feeding their nestlings. Here is a shot of the cute little nestling sticking his or her head out the cavity entrance.

If you want to see more great bird photos from around the world, check out World Bird Wednesday and join in the fun by submitting your post!

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