Gila Woodpecker

Basic Description

The Gila Woodpecker (Melanerpes uropygialis) is a medium-sized bird that belongs to the woodpecker family. It has a distinctive appearance with its black and white striped back, grey head, and yellow underparts. The male and female are similar in size and coloration.

Where To Find This Bird

The Gila Woodpecker is native to the southwestern part of North America, including Arizona, California, New Mexico, Nevada, Texas, Utah and Mexico. They prefer living in deserts or other arid habitats such as open woodlands and savannas.


Gila Woodpeckers live in cacti which provide them with shelter from predators like hawks or snakes. They use their strong beaks to make holes inside the cactus for nesting purposes or to store food during winter months.


Gila Woodpeckers feed on insects that they find by probing into trees. They can also eat fruits such as agave nectar when insects are scarce during times of droughts throughout the desert regions where they reside.

Cool Facts

– Unlike most other woodpeckers that drum on tree trunks looking for food or making nest cavities high up in trees; Gila Woodpeckers spend much of their time drilling holes into saguaro cacti.
– These birds have an adapted tongue that curls around their skull so it can move back-and-forth several times per second while feeding.
– The name “Gila” derives from the River Gila which runs through southern Arizona where these birds are common.
– Male Gila Woodpeckers have a unique way of attracting mates: They tap loudly on metal objects like signs or barbed wire fences to create a noise that can be heard up to half-a-mile away.