The Nuttall’s Woodpecker (Picoides nuttallii) is found primarily in the oak woodlands of California and northern Baja California. It just so happens that I also live in the oak woodlands of California and was able to see these little woodpeckers feeding their young at their tree cavity nest last year.
This year, they are coming to my woodpecker feeder to find out what kind of goodies are in store.
This is a rather rare occurrence since the Nuttall’s Woodpecker feeds primarily on insects and arthropods, probing and gleaning them from the tree bark.
The bright red on the posterior crown and nape of this bird identifies it as a male. The female has no red markings.
This bird had just grabbed a nut from the feeder and shoved it into a gap in the tree bark to secure it as he ate.
The Nuttall’s Woodpecker is distinguished from the similar Ladder-backed Woodpecker by having more black on its face (narrower white markings) and narrower white bars on its back with the upper part of the back, below the nape, being all black.
The Nuttall’s also has more creamy colored lores than the Ladder-backed. Geographic location and their differing calls however, are probably the best indicators for a positive identification. The Nuttall’s likes a less arid environment than the Ladder-backed Woodpecker and their territories barely overlap with the Nuttall’s taking northern and western California and the Ladder-backed found in the south eastern part of the state, extending southward and eastward into Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Mexico.
You can hear the difference in their calls, the Nuttall’s Woodpecker call here and the Ladder-backed here.
Like I said, they eat primarily insects and arthropods but here is the video of this California bird visiting my woodpecker feeder. Enjoy!
Great post Larry! Really enjoyed the video.
…you chose a great place to live! Glad this fellow is coming to your yard now. I enjoyed the video too (loved the sound of the running water…we don’t have much of that around here right now…it’s all frozen!).
@Dawn thank you. I’m trying to take more videos when I’m photographing birds. I really enjoy watching bird behavior and recording video on a digital camera these days is so easy, it’s a shame not to record short clips of what your are seeing at the time.
@Kelly I was pretty lucky finding this piece of land on which I live. The running water in the background is from my water feature.
Very informative post on the Nuttall’s, a woodie species I’ve never seen. I like the idea of capturing behaviour on video … something I must try.
@Frank the only thing you need to capture video on most digital cameras these days is a stable tripod. I suggest staying as quiet as possible while recording as well. In my opinion, there is nothing worse than hearing people talk during a nature video. I want to hear the birds and the flowing water, the frogs and the crickets.
I like that feeder. Any advice on building them? Also, what do you stock it with?
@Godsdog I have been meaning to take this feeder apart and draw up a plan to build one so that I could share it on my website. Basically, the “box” part is about 16 inches long and 5 1/2 X 5 1/2 inches square, measured to the outside. The floor of the feeder is recessed 4 inches from the bottom (this acts as a tail prop) of the feeder (just below the lower holes) and has a triangular shaped piece of wood running across it on the inside to deflect the seed toward the wire openings. The wire sides are made from 1/4 inch hardware cloth overlapped by 1/2 inch hardware cloth on the outside. These are framed by trim pieces that hold the wire to the sides. The roof is peaked and fits like a lid over the sides of the feeder walls. It is hinged on one side with screws and is secured on the other side with a 90 degree thumbscrew. You can see a better photo of it here. You can also order it from my website here. If you decide to do that, email me for the discount code!
I have been filling it with Wild Delight “Woodpecker, Nuthatch and Chickadee Food” and they love it. There are many brands of this special mix out there and I am currently trying two other brands as well.
I hope to take it apart and make a blueprint to post for anyone wanting to make it as soon as I find the time 🙂
Interesting info on the tail prop. That’s good to know. I am going to attempt to build one. What are the three holes on the side for?
@Godsdog there are actually six holes on each side that the woodpeckers extract the seed from as well as the screened sides. The bird food is accessible from all sides
Very cool. Those holes look to be about 1/2 inch in diameter. Correct?
I will send a pic when I have mine finished.
Thanks for the neat site.
Hi Larry. Thanks again for the cool website. I built a feeder along the lines of the one you show on this site. Used scrap wood and hardware cloth that I had around so cost was minimal. It has been up and filled (Wild Delight)for at least a month with no interest or activity what so ever. We have Acorn wood peckers on the property (hear them every day)and are surrounded by several hundred acres of undeveloped land that has oak woodland, redwood / fir forest, maritime chaparral, so I think that there might be other species in the area. We also might have heard a Pileated recently (??).
The new feeder is approximately 20 feet from our other feeder where we have Juncos. Chickadees, Oak Titmice,Towhees (two types) Scrub and Stellar jays, Nuthatches,several finches, etc. (squirrels and chipmunks also) We have also had the Acorn Wood peckers at the feeder from time to time as well(rarely). Can you recommend anything that might help attract the wood peckers to the new feeder?
The feeder is post mounted about 8 feet off the ground as the trees in the area do not allow for hanging and or trunk mounting where it is readily visible. I would send the photos but I am not computer savvy and do not see a way to submit them.Could you assist with that as well?
Thanks so much. Love the site and apologies for the too long post.