California Loves Our Nuttall’s Woodpeckers

by Larry 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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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Mia McPherson March 13, 2012 at 6:31 am

Love these images Larry, this is a species I would deeply appreciate seeing. How wonderful that they nest on your property too!
Mia McPherson´s last post ..Comment on Feathers & Fur by judy watson

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TexWisGirl March 13, 2012 at 7:17 am

he’s a beauty! i love the little heart-shaped feather patterns towards his tail. :)
TexWisGirl´s last post ..Turkey Vultures

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Crafty Gardener March 13, 2012 at 11:08 am

lovely series of photo of the woodpecker
Crafty Gardener´s last post ..Heads and Tails

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Luisa March 13, 2012 at 11:13 am

Great post and absolutely wonderful photos. I was surprised and delighted to discover a pair of Nuttall’s Woodpeckers spending much time in my neighbor’s oak trees, and I often hear that distinctive call. Hard for me to spot among the branches, though, so I really appreciate these photos. Larry, a question for you — do bears ever come to your feeders? And if so, have you taken any steps to discourage them? Thanks again for the great post and photos.

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Boom & Gary March 13, 2012 at 11:42 am

Great series of a real beauty!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.
Boom & Gary´s last post ..High Winds At THe Vermilon River. A Post to MWT and WBW.

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Mick March 13, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Great photos and a very beautiful little bird.
Mick´s last post ..Black Stilt

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Mary Howell Cromer March 13, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Oh they are lovely Woodpeckers Larry. They look a bit like our Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers. All of them have the sweetest faces and such great personalities~

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Andrew March 13, 2012 at 1:52 pm

We only have three woodpeckers in the UK .
Many thanks for sharing one of yours.
Andrew´s last post ..Grey Heron hunting… he was patient… I was patient….. how patient are you?

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Frank March 13, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Super little ‘woodie’ … thanks for sharing Larry.
Frank´s last post ..Meadow Pipit.

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Tatjana Parkacheva March 13, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Wonderful photographs.

Regards and best wishes

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eileen March 13, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Nice post on the Nuttall woodie. I love all the woodies and I would like to add this one to my life list someday. Your photos are wonderful.
eileen´s last post ..Backyard birds

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Larry March 13, 2012 at 4:58 pm

@Mia I feel so special that they nest on my land. If you ever get to California, look me up and I will be happy to sow them to you!

@Theresa, thank you, I never actually noticed that those undertail coverts had heart shaped markings! Very cool!

@Linda thank you

@Luisa if your neighbor has a pair of Nuttall’s Woodpeckers in their oak tree, you may want to look for any woodpecker holes like, the one in the last photo, they might be using as a nest site. As far as the bears go, we had a bear tear down a couple of feeders one winter. I knew it was a bear because it was a metal cage feeder and it was literally crushed! All I did was stop putting sunflower seed in that feeder for awhile (after I bent it back into a similar shape) and had no further problem. The only thing I could think of would be to put the feeder up higher.

@Gary thank you

@Mick thank you very much

@Andrew the only one I have seen photos of from the bird bloggers over there is the Great Spotted Woodpecker

@Mary their faces do look a lot like the Downy and Hairy, which we also have here, but they have black and white striped backs rather than the white streak down the middle. The only other North American woodpecker with the “zebra” striped back is the Ladder-backed Woodpecker

@Frank thanks! I love the woodpeckers. Wish I had better access to Pileated Woodies ;-)

@Tatjana thank you very much

@Eileen when you come to California, look me up and I’ll take you to them!

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Pat March 14, 2012 at 7:00 am

Great shots! He’s a beautiful little bird.
Pat´s last post ..Mr. and Mrs. RBWO

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joo March 14, 2012 at 11:18 am

Superb photos! The last one is my favourite this time!
joo´s last post ..Winter beach

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CameraCruise March 14, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Great shots!
What a beautiful bird.

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springman March 14, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Awesome Larry, what a gorgeous species to call your own. Your shots are beautiful, the detail is breathtaking.
Cheers to you sir!

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Wanda March 15, 2012 at 6:15 am

Beautiful series Larry, I can definitly understand your excitement over this beauty.

I have been following a Red-bellied Woodpecker on my propery, trying to get a good video of him escavating a hole for nesting purposes in one of the dead oaks in our wooded area.
Wanda´s last post ..House Hunters

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