1/14/2012

Arizona's Heavenly Gila Woodpecker

We saw50 new species of birds during our two week trip to Arizona and California. Amazingly, we saw the first eight new species within three hours of arriving in Tucson!  .One truly enchanting bird species we discovered was the Gila (Pronounced 'heela') Woodpecker shown above.

According to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum factsheet, Gila Woodpeckers are permanent Sonoran Desert dwellers and are found in all of its habitats.  This woodpecker can be found in southeast California, southwest Nevada, southern Arizona, southwest New Mexico and south into central Mexico.


Woodpeckers nest in cavities that they excavate with their long beak. In the Sonoran Desert they often make these cavities in saguaro cactus. The inside of a cactus provides a safe, cool place for the woodpeckers to raise their young. The excavated cavity is called a "boot".


Both male and female Gila woodpeckers have a brown face, black and white zebra striped back, and white wing patches that are visible during flight. Adult males have a red cap of feathers on the top of their head. They look a bit like Flickers, actually.

7 comments:

  1. When I lived in Mesa, AZ, I'd get Gila WP's at my seed block. Thanks for sharing the correct pronunciation too as so many people don't know.

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    1. Thank you, Robert. They are really irresistible birds. I'm so glad I had the chance to see them.

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  2. Replies
    1. Thank you so much for the compliment, Steve. It's much appreciated!

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  3. Thanks, Dawn. Would you believe we saw 50 new species on a two week trip to Arizona and California? I'm wishing we had a mobile home now - traveling is so much fun!

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    1. Beautiful photos of beautiful birds. I keep seeing a sparrow type bird that looks as if someone glued a limp caterpillar to it's head. anyone know what it is

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