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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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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

See a fully interactive migration map for over 450 bird species on the Bird Migration Explorer.

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Songs and Calls

Loud churrrr. Call a burry chuck-chuck-chuck.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.

Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.

Climate Threats Near You

Climate threats facing the Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.