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

The Gila Woodpecker may be found thriving in the tall saguaro forests of the Southwest, where it has been referred to as one of the “master craftspeople of the desert” by Roger Tory Peterson. But it is on the floor of Arizona’s Sonoran Desert where the Gila dominates our North American avifauna. Although there are scattered populations in California, Nevada, and New Mexico, and a considerably greater range in “old” Mexico, the Gila is most common in Arizona.

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