White-headed Woodpecker

White headed Woodpecker

The white head and black body make the White-headed Woodpecker quite easy to identify because it is the only North American woodpecker with such characteristics.

White-headed Woodpecker males have a red patch toward the back of their head, but females are only white and black. They have a white stripe on the wings when closed.

  • Leuconotopicus albolarvatus
  • Length: 8.3 – 9.1 in (21 – 23 cm)
  • Weight: 1.9 – 2.3 oz (55 – 65 g)
  • Wingspan: 16.9 in (43 cm)


They live in pine forests in western mountains from California to British Columbia eating pine seeds and some insects, which they get from flaking the bark off rather than drilling holes like most woodpeckers.

Habitat And Diet

You can find White-headed Woodpeckers in forests with large ponderosa pine and sugar pine trees with large cones filled with pine seeds. They breed in semi-open habitats like oak groves and towns and are also found in recently burned forests because they need dead trees as nesting sites.

Pine seeds are the primary diet of White-headed Woodpeckers. They also feast on pine sap by making shallow holes in small trees, exactly how a sapsucker does it. They also eat insects like ants, termites, beetles, and cicadas. They also visit backyard feeders.

White-headed Woodpecker Call And Drumming:


Nests of White-headed Woodpeckers are usually cavities excavated from dead trees or in a dead portion of a live tree. Both adults excavate their nesting site. They may use the same tree for succeeding nestings but they will create new crevices to nest in.

They lay three to seven eggs and incubate them for about two weeks. Parents feed their young until they leave the nest after twenty-six days from hatching.

Attract to your Backyard

Although they eat pine seeds, they will also visit suet feeders if you live in their mountain range.

Fun Fact:

When White-headed Woodpeckers come across a large pine seed that will be difficult to pry open, they wedge it into a crevice in a tree and then hammer it until it breaks open.