Photo: Andy Morffew/Flickr Creative Commons

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Melanerpes aurifrons

The common open-country woodpecker of eastern Mexico and northern Central America. It crosses the border mainly in southern Texas, where it is very common, noisy, and conspicuous. Similar in appearance and behavior to its relative, the Red-bellied Woodpecker. Where their ranges meet in Texas and Oklahoma, the two species aggressively defend territories against each other, and they sometimes interbreed.
Conservation status Was once persecuted as a pest because of its excavations in telegraph poles; many were shot in Texas in early part of 20th century. Current population apparently stable.
Family Woodpeckers
Habitat Mesquites, stream woodlands, groves. In its limited North American range, found in most open woodlands, especially along rivers; also around orchards, stands of mesquite along dry washes, groves of trees in open country. In Central America, also around edges of tropical forest.
The common open-country woodpecker of eastern Mexico and northern Central America. It crosses the border mainly in southern Texas, where it is very common, noisy, and conspicuous. Similar in appearance and behavior to its relative, the Red-bellied Woodpecker. Where their ranges meet in Texas and Oklahoma, the two species aggressively defend territories against each other, and they sometimes interbreed.
Photo Gallery
  • adult male
  • adult female
  • adult female
Feeding Behavior

Searches for insects on tree trunks and limbs, gleaning them from bark or probing below surface. Clambers about in branches of trees or shrubs to pick nuts, berries, or fruits. May forage on ground, and sometimes catches insects in flight. Cracks open mesquite pods to eat the seeds.


Eggs

Usually 4-5, up to 7. White. Incubation is by both sexes (with male incubating at night and part of day), 12-14 days. Young: Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave nest about 30 days after hatching, may associate with parents for some time thereafter. 1-2 broods per year, rarely 3.


Young

Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave nest about 30 days after hatching, may associate with parents for some time thereafter. 1-2 broods per year, rarely 3.

Diet

Omnivorous. Feeds on a wide variety of insects. Also eats nuts, berries, fruits, and seeds of many plants; will eat many acorns where they are available.


Nesting

Advertises nesting territory with loud calls, sometimes with drumming. Nest site is a cavity in trunk of tree (live or dead) such as mesquite or oak, or in telephone poles or fence posts. Cavities are usually fairly low, typically less than 20' above ground. Both sexes help excavate the cavity, which may be used for more than one season.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Permanent resident, with some local movements, concentrating at good feeding areas in winter. A lone male once strayed to western Florida and remained several months, mating with a local Red-bellied and raising two young.

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Migration

Permanent resident, with some local movements, concentrating at good feeding areas in winter. A lone male once strayed to western Florida and remained several months, mating with a local Red-bellied and raising two young.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Loud churrrr. Call a burry chuck-chuck-chuck.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.

How climate change could affect this bird's range

In the broadest and most detailed study of its kind, Audubon scientists have used hundreds of thousands of citizen-science observations and sophisticated climate models to predict how birds in the U.S. and Canada will react to climate change.

Learn more

Read more: climate.audubon.org
Picidae, Woodpeckers Tree-clinging Birds

Golden-fronted Woodpecker

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season.

More on reading these maps.

Each map is a visual guide to where a particular bird species may find the climate conditions it needs to survive in the future. We call this the bird’s “climatic range.”

The colors indicate the season in which the bird may find suitable conditions— blue for winter, yellow for summer (breeding), and green for where they overlap (indicating their presence year-round).

The darker the shaded area, the more likely it is the bird species will find suitable climate conditions to survive there.

The outline of the approximate current range for each season remains fixed in each frame, allowing you to compare how the range will expand, contract, or shift in the future.

The first frame of the animation shows where the bird can find a suitable climate today (based on data from 2000). The next three frames predict where this bird’s suitable climate may shift in the future—one frame each for 2020, 2050, and 2080.

You can play or pause the animation with the orange button in the lower left, or select an individual frame to study by clicking on its year.

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season. More on reading these maps.
Winter
Summer

Winter Range
Summer Range
Both Seasons
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