Nuttall's Woodpecker

Picoides nuttallii

A small woodpecker confined primarily to the oak woodlands of California.

Interesting Information

Although Nuttall's Woodpeckers are nearly confined to oak woodlands, they do not eat acorns.


Adult Description

  • Size: 16-18 cm (6-7 in)

  • Weight: 30-45 g (1.06-1.59 ounces)

  • Small black-and-white woodpecker.

  • Black-and-white barred back, with unbarred black region at top of back.

  • Black face with white malar stripe and a white stripe over the eye going back to the nape of the neck.

  • Throat, breast, and belly white.

  • Spots and streaks of black along sides and under tail.

  • Outer tail feathers white with black spots.

Sex Differences

Male with red on back of head, female black.


Male with forehead black, streaked with white on center of crown, red on rear crown and upper nape.


Female with forehead, crown, and nape black with some white streaking.


Juveniles of both sexes have red on crown. Red feathering is less extensive than on adult male.


Photo taken from: The Sibley Field Guide by David Allen Sibley

© 2003 Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Found primarily in oak woodlands and in riparian woods; rarely in conifers.


Forages by gleaning, probing, prying and tapping.


Insects and arthropods, some fruit.



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
     Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Picidae
    Subfamily: Picinae
Genus: Picoides
Species: Picoides nuttallii

Similar Species

  • Downy Woodpecker has pure white in the middle of the back, pure white underparts, no white streaking on crown, and the black eye and malar stripes do not join.

  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker is paler, more white on back, has larger white stripes on face (a white face with black stripes, not a black face with white stripes like Nuttall's), barring rather than spots on outer tail feathers, and more extensive red on the head of the male, extending up to the forehead.

Bird Sound

Call note a double "pitik."

Eggs look like this

Photo taken from: ARCTOS Collaborative Collection Management Solution