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Gila Woodpecker (Melanerpes uropygialis)
gila woodpecker

DESCRIPTION: L=9.25" (24cm). Back and rump barred black and white, otherwise tan. White wing patches seen in flight. Male has red cap, female does not.
CALL: Call a quickly repeated "churr churr churr churr". Also, Gila Woodpeckers may make a call that sounds like a rubber ducky. Both Gila Woodpeckers and Gilded Flickers will tap loudly on metal objects as a territorial "call".
NATURAL HISTORY: Although Gila Woodpeckers are one of the primary excavators of cavities in saguaros (along with Gilded Flickers), they also are one of the primary dispersers of saguaro seeds (along with House Finches and White-winged Doves). Saguaro cavities excavated by Gila Woodpeckers usually do not cause serious damage to the saguaro because they do not peck through the internal ribs of the saguaro; however, flickers do peck through the ribs and may cause damage (and occasionally death) to saguaros. Woodpecker cavities in saguaros, in addition to being used by the woodpeckers to raise their young, are used by many other animal species (e.g., other birds, bats, and arthropods) for nesting/roosting.

As mentioned earlier, Gila Woodpeckers feed on saguaro fruits, but their diet is quite varied, including insects, other cactus fruits, and even mistletoe berries. They even frequent hummingbird feeders and will steal dog food.

Click on thumbnails below:

female without red spot on head male with red spot on head