Species Profile: Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Picoides scalaris

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

Introduction to the species

“When there are trees, the Specklecheck nests in them. If he can’t find a tree, he accommodates himself in a yucca or a hole in a fence post or telegraph pole, and one is often surprised on opening a ranch gate, to have a black and white checkered, scarlet headed brood come stringing out of the gate post, screaming at the interruption.”
-M. Slater 1945

The sprightly little Ladder-backed Woodpecker curiously explores the scrub and cactus lands of the desert Southwest. Equally at home on mesquite or cholla, the Ladder-backed also earned the nickname “Cactus Woodpecker,” which persists today in the name of the widespread North American subspecies, P. s. cactophilus.

Gallery of photos of the Ladder-backed Woodpecker by Steve Shunk

Return to List of Species of North American Woodpeckers page.

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