Nuttall's Woodpecker

Picoides nuttallii

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

Cool Facts

Photo taken from:
The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America by David Allen Sibley
  • Although Nuttall's Woodpeckers are nearly confined to oak woodlands, they do not eat acorns.


  • 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.
Range Map
Taxonomic Hierarchy


2003 Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
     Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Piciformes
Family: Picidae
     Subfamily: Picinae
Genus: Picoides
Species: Picoides nuttallii
Call note a double "pitik."

Identification and Information
See Anatomy of a Bird
  • Length Range: 19 cm (7.5 in)
  • Weight: 37 g (1.3 oz)
  • Size: 2. Small (5 - 9 in)
  • Color Primary: White, Black
  • Underparts: White with black spotting.
  • Upperparts: Black
  • Back Pattern: Barred or banded
  • Belly Pattern: Solid
  • Breast Pattern: Solid
  • Bill Shape: Dagger, All-purpose
  • Eye Color: Brown or gray-brown in hatch year and second year birds developing to red in most after hatch year and second year birds.
  • Head Pattern: Eyeline, Capped, Striped, Streaked, Unique pattern, Malar or malar stripe
  • Crown Color: Black
  • Forehead Color: Black
  • Nape Color: Red
  • Throat Color: White
  • Cere color: No Data
  • Flight Pattern: Alternates several deep flaps with glides.
  • Wingspan Range: 34 cm (13.5 in)
  • Wing Shape: Rounded-Wings
  • Tail Shape: Notched Tail
  • Tail Pattern: Solid
  • Upper Tail: Black
  • Under Tail: Black with black and white side feathers.
  • Leg Color: Gray
  • Breeding Location: Forest edge, Mountains, Scrub vegetation areas
  • Breeding Type: Monogamous
  • Breeding Population: Fairly common to common
  • Egg Color: White
  • Number of Eggs: 3 - 6
  • Incubation Days: 14
  • Egg Incubator: Both sexes
  • Nest Material: No nest materials.
  • Migration: Nonmigratory
  • Condition at Hatching: Young hatch naked and helpless.

Other Names

Similar Species

  • Pic de Nuttall (French)
  • Carpintero de Nuttall, Carpintero californiano (Spanish)
  • 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.

Conservation Status

This woodpecker is of moderate conservation importance, primarily because of its limited range, low overall density, and its association with intact oak and riparian forests. As a primary cavity nester, this species provides nest sites for many other species in these forests. Populations appear to be stable at present, and this species is common and somewhat tolerant of human activity.


Sources used to Construct this Page:

Found primarily in oak woodlands and in riparian woods; rarely in conifers.
  • Lowther, P. E. 2000. Nuttall's Woodpecker (Picoides nuttallii). In  The Birds of North America, No. 555 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.
Insects and arthropods, some fruit.
Forages by gleaning, probing, prying and tapping.

Adult Male

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Adult Female

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Additional Photos & Video

Adult Female

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All photos 2008 Rick Swartzentrover - Free for non-profit use.

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