New Mexico Birds: Piciformes


This page is for woodpeckers and flickers (Picidae). They are presented in alphabetical order by genus and species.

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)

Like their close relatives the woodpeckers, Flickers brace themselves against trunks and branches using stiff tail feathers. Male Northern Flickers have red "moustaches," females do not. Both have tails with a lot of red when seen from below. The final image, of a feather, shows why Northern Flickers in this part of the country were once known as "Red-shafted Flickers."

Ladder-backed Woodpecker (Picoides scalaris)

Key characteristics to look for: the banded black and white back and the light face marked with black lines. A red top of of the head shows that the individual is a male. My two photos of a female are of the same individual. At the time she was hanging on desert willow seed pods and pecking her way into them. Was she looking for seeds? Or for insects in the seed pods? My guess is the latter.


Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)

Please see my comments on Hairy Woodpeckers, below. Downy Woodpeckers are distinguished (barely) by having dark spots on their white outer tail feathers, by their shorter beaks, and by being more fuzzy at the bases of their upper beaks.

Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus)

 If you don't see much difference between Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers in my pictures, I'm not surprised. When it comes to these two species the differences are so minor, I'm often unsure of my IDs. Hairy Woodpeckers have longer beaks and lack dark spots along the white outer edges of their tails.