Gila Woodpecker

Species Profile: Gila Woodpecker

Gila Woodpecker, Melanerpes uropygialis

Learn more about this species in the Peterson Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North America.

Introduction to the species

“This woodpecker has not the best disposition in the world, for he is very quarrelsome and intolerant. He fights his own kin and all the neighbors that he dares. … I saw one approach a Bendire Thrasher that was eating, and suddenly pounce on him. He had the thrasher down and I was thinking of offering my friendly services as a board of arbitration, when the under bird crawled from beneath and soon gave the woodpecker the thrashing of his career.”-
-F. Gilman 1915

Described by Roger Tory Peterson as one of the “master artisans of the desert,” the Gila Woodpecker thrives among the towering saguaro forests of the Southwest. Small populations spill into California, Nevada, and New Mexico, with a much larger range in “old” Mexico, but it is on Arizona’s Sonoran Desert floor that the Gila dominates our North American avifauna.

Gallery of photos of the Gila Woodpecker by Steve Shunk

Return to List of Species of North American Woodpeckers page.

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