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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

White-headed Woodpecker -- Picoides albolarvatus

RANGE: Resident from southern interior British Columbia, north-central Washington, and northern Idaho south through Oregon, east of the Cascades, to southern California and west-central Nevada. Casual in coastal and desert areas of southern California, but absent from the humid coastal coniferous forest.

STATUS: Local.

HABITAT: Primarily inhabits open ponderosa pine forests, but also occurs in sugar pine, Jeffrey pine, and red and white fir forests. Prefers forests with large trees and 40 to 70 percent canopy cover.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Dead trees for cavity nests.

NEST: Usually excavates a new nest hole each year; seems to prefer dead pines. Nests in live and dead fir, oak, and aspen, with nest holes usually about 8 feet above the ground.

FOOD: Consumes primarily pine seeds, during winter and early spring (60 percent of total diet) and insects and spiders during summer.

REFERENCES: Bent 1939, Grinnel and Miller 1944, Ligon 1973, Tevis 1953, Verner and Boss 1980.

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