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Ladder-backed Woodpecker Picoides scalaris


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Ladder-backed Woodpecker, male
credit: Alan D. Wilson/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Picidae, Woodpeckers view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE Has barred black and white pattern on back and wings, and white barring on outer feathers of otherwise black tail. Head has red crown and nape, and black line around ear coverts on otherwise white face. Underparts are grubby white, but with neat black spots on breast and bars on flanks. ADULT FEMALE Similar, but crown is black; nasal tufts are grubby white. JUVENILE Resembles adult male.

Dimensions Length: 7" (18 cm)

Habitat A mainly Central American species whose resident range extends to southwestern U.S., from Texas to Arizona. Fairly common in arid scrub and in woodland in Texas.

Observation Tips Easy to see in suitable habitats.

Range Texas, California, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Plains

Voice Utters a harsh, chattering call and a sharp pik.

Discussion Well-marked, mainly black and white desert woodpecker. Feeds on boring insects and cactus fruits. Excavates nest holes in trees and large cacti. Sexes are dissimilar.