WatchList Species Account for White-headed Woodpecker (Picoides albolarvatus)

Qualifies for the list as a Declining Yellow List Species


Photo: USFWS
Photo: USFWS

Save for a small extension into the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, the White-headed Woodpecker is endemic to the U.S., where it has a fragmented distribution in the mountains of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, and extreme western Nevada, in the vicinity of Lake Tahoe. North of California its abundance decreases; it is rare or uncommon in its range in Washington and Idaho and quite rare in British Columbia. In California it is still common in the Sierra Nevada and mountains of the southern part of the state. A sedentary species, it ranges altitudinally from under 700 m in British Columbia to as high as 3,200 m in California. It is found in mixed coniferous forests dominated by pines, the seeds of which form an important part of its diet. The bird typically takes seeds from open cones and is closely associated with ponderosa pine.


Though it gleans for insects on trunks and branch surfaces and flakes and chips bark from the tree, it does not drill deeper into living or decaying wood.

Though no trends are detectable from the small number of Breeding Bird Surveys within its range, the species has declined locally due to clear-cutting, removal of snags which provide nesting sites, planting of even-age stands, fire suppression and forest fragmentation. The bird seems relatively tolerant to human activity if not prolonged in the vicinity of the nest tree; some of the national forests where it occurs receive a very high human visitorship.