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Woodpeckers

Status

  • Acorn woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus). Population appears stable.
  • Black-backed woodpecker (Picoides arcticus). Local populations rise and fall with changes in the food supply, but the overall population appears stable.
  • Downy woodpecker (Picoides pubescens). A common and widespread woodpecker. The population appears stable. Does not nest in birdhouses.
  • Gila woodpecker (Melanerpes uropygialis). The population in California declined in the twentieth century, but this species remains abundant in Arizona.
  • Golden-fronted woodpecker (Melanerpes aurifrons). This bird was once shot by railroad personnel because it was considered a telephone pole pest (soft pine is much easier to drill holes in than mesquite), and many were shot in Texas in the early 1900s. Today, the population appears stable.
  • Great spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos major). An Alaskan stray.
  • Hairy woodpecker (Picoides villosus). Has declined in some areas due to loss of nesting sites. Starlings and house sparrows sometimes take over the nesting cavities.
  • Ivory-billed woodpecker (Campephilus principalis). Almost certainly extinct. The last confirmed sitings in the United States were in the 1950s; reports persisted, however, of sitings in Cuba into the 1980s.
  • Ladder-backed woodpecker (Picoides scalaris). Indications are that there has been a slight decline in number in recent years, but the population today appears stable.
  • Lewis's woodpecker (Melanerpes lewis). Found erratically, so populations have been hard to monitor. There is some indication, however, that populations have declined in recent years. This woodpecker is sometimes considered an orchard pest.
  • Nuttall's woodpecker (Picoides nuttallii). Population appears stable.
  • Pileated woodpecker (Drycopus pileatus). The population declined in the East in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries due to deforestation. This woodpecker has made a gradual comeback since 1900, becoming once again common in some areas.
  • Red-bellied woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus). The population in the North declined over the first half of the twentieth century, but this trend has recently reversed itself. The overall population appears stable, and may actually be increasing.
  • Red-cockaded woodpecker (Picoides borealis). Endangered. The total population is estimated at less than 10,000, with many local groups facing extinction. The cause of this woodpecker's decline has been the suppression of natural fires and overcutting of the pine forests in the Southeast.
  • Red-headed woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus). The population has been in decline for a number of years, probably due to loss of nesting sites and competition with starlings for nest cavities. This woodpecker avoids birdhouses.
  • Strickland's woodpecker (Picoides striclandi). The population in the United States appears stable.
  • Three-toed woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus). Local variations in population. Although usually uncommon, this woodpecker may become abundant during periods of heavy insect infestation. Appears stable in remote northern range.
  • White-headed woodpecker (Picoides albolarvatus). Population appears stable.
  • Northern flicker (Colaptes auratus). Abundant and widespread, but there may have been some decline in population. The flicker competes at a disadvantage with the starling for new nesting sites. The yellow- and red-shafted subspecies appear stable.
  • Williamson's sapsucker (Sphyrapicus thyoideus). Population appears stable.
  • Red-breasted sapsucker (Sphyrapicus ruber). Although the population may have declined due to cutting of forests of the Northwest, this species is still fairly numerous.
  • Yellow-bellied sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius). Although this bird has disappeared from some traditional southern nesting areas, it is still fairly numerous.
  • Red-naped sapsucker (Sphyrapicus nuchalis). Population appears stable.

Resources

Books

Bent, A.C. Life History of North American Woodpeckers (Deluxe Edition). Indiana University Press, 1992.

Brooke, M., and T. Birkhead. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Ornithology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press,1991.

Ehrlich, Paul R., David S. Dobkin, and Darryl Wheye. The Birder's Handbook. New York: Simon & Schuster Inc., 1988.

Forshaw, Joseph. Encyclopedia of Birds. New York: Academic Press, 1998.

Godfrey, W.E. The Birds of Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1986.

Sibley, David Allen. The Sibley Guide to Birds. New York: Knopf, 2000.


Bill Freedman
Randall Frost

KEY TERMS

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Cavity nester

—A bird that builds its nest in a hollow in a tree. Woodpeckers excavate their own avities, but other species of birds and some mammals use natural cavities, or excavations created and abandoned by other species, especially woodpeckers.

Integrated management

—A management system that focuses on more than a single economic resource. In forestry, integrated management might be designed to enhance the resource of lumber and pulpwood, as well as the needs of hunted animals such as deer, non-hunted animals such as song birds and woodpeckers, the aesthetics of landscapes, and other values.

Snag

—An erect but dead tree.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Well-being to Jan Ɓukasiewicz BiographyWoodpeckers - Instinctive Behavior, Physical Adaptions, Woodpeckers In North America, Woodpeckers And Humans, Status