The Gila Woodpecker is a medium-sized bird that belongs to the Picidae family. They are found in arid regions of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. On average, they measure approximately 9 inches in length and weigh approximately 1.5 ounces.
One of the most distinctive field marks of the Gila Woodpecker is its black and white striped head. They have a large, red crest on the back of their head that can be raised or lowered depending on the bird’s mood. In addition, they have a black and white spotted back, a white belly, and a black tail. Males also have a red patch on the back of their neck.
These woodpeckers are year-round residents in their range and do not migrate. They primarily feed on insects and their larvae, but they are also known to consume fruits, nuts, and cactus fruits. Gila Woodpeckers excavate their own nests in saguaro cacti, mesquite trees, and other dead trees.
In addition to foraging for food, Gila Woodpeckers are also known for their drumming behavior. They drum on hollow trees, metal objects, and other resonant surfaces to attract mates, establish territory, and communicate with other birds. This behavior is also used to locate insects hidden within the wood.
Overall, the Gila Woodpecker is an important species in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Their role as a primary predator of insects helps to maintain the balance of the ecosystem. In addition, they are also important to indigenous cultures, with some tribes considering them to be sacred animals.