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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Gila Woodpecker -- Melanerpes uropygialis


RANGE: Resident from southeastern California, extreme southern Nevada, central Arizona, and southwestern New Mexico south through Baja California and western Mexico to Jalisco.

STATUS: Locally common.

HABITAT: Inhabits desert mesas in association with creosotebush, mesquite, and saguaro and organ-pipe cactus. Also occurs in riparian areas and in foothill canyons among cottonwoods, willows, and sycamores.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Suitable nest sites in the Sonoran Desert such as cottonwoods, mesquites, and saguaros.

NEST: Excavates holes mainly in saguaro but uses cottonwoods, willows, and mesquites at higher elevations and in riparian habitat.

FOOD: Mainly eats insects; also eats fruits and nuts, and occasionally preys on nestling birds and eggs.

REFERENCES: Bent 1939, Phillips et al. 1964, Terres 1980.


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