Fun Gila Woodpecker Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Jan 14, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Shray Sharma
Here are some Gila woodpecker facts of interest

Roosting on cottonwood willow trees, the Gila woodpecker is a species of medium-sized woodpecker that resides in desert regions, making their nest in the cavities of the saguaro cactus. As solitary creatures, these birds are hard to spot, if not for the bright crown on the head of the male bird.

Gila woodpeckers cannot vocalize well and thus are not melodious by any means.

Their tongue has a bristle-like end. The Gila woodpecker has achieved notoriety as it has been known to feast on other baby chicks and also eat the eggs of other birds. However, there are also other predators that eat or destroy the eggs of the Gila woodpecker.

Their diet is varied depending on where they are from. They are extremely territorial and are often aggressive towards other birds, even woodpeckers, and they heavily guard their nests. Read on to know more interesting facts about the Gila woodpecker.

If this is of interest, then make sure to check out the bird of paradise and the barn owl.

Gila Woodpecker Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Gila Woodpecker woodpecker?

The Gila woodpecker is a type of woodpecker bird.

What class of animal does a Gila Woodpecker woodpecker belong to?

The Gila woodpecker belongs to the class Aves.

How many Gila Woodpeckers woodpeckers are there in the world?

There is no fixed estimate as to the total numbers number of Gila woodpeckers in the world.

Where does a Gila Woodpecker woodpecker live?

The main Gila woodpecker habitat is the United States and Mexico where they are found in the regions of Nevada, New Mexico, and California. Their distribution range also includes the Sonoran Desert present in Southern Arizona and some parts of California.

What is a Gila Woodpecker woodpecker's habitat?

The Gila woodpecker (Melanerpes uropygialis) prefers to live in desert-like zones with shrubland. They feed off cacti fruits and also construct nesting sites within the saguaro cacti by digging out a hole.

The holes are known as boots, and once the young ones have grown up, the boots or nests are used by many other animal species like elf owls.

Who do Gila Woodpeckers woodpeckers live with?

Gila woodpeckers prefer to live solitary lives. However, some of it depends on the bird's characteristics. Some may live in pairs, some may live in small groups and others on the other hand might be extremely territorial and aggressive.

How long does a Gila Woodpecker woodpecker live?

A Gila woodpecker in captivity may live for as long as 10 years. But the number is only around five years for those living in their natural habitats.

How do they reproduce?

Woodpeckers mate for life. The breeding season is from April to August.

After mating, the pair builds a cavity within the saguaro cactus or a mesquite tree. These saguaro cactus cavities often house other animals like snakes once abandoned. A single nest may contain between two and four eggs, but the female may have multiple broods of young ones in a year.

After a 10 to 12 10-12 days incubation period, the young ones come out. The young chick must move out of the saguaro home within three or four weeks or risk being evicted.

What is their conservation status?

As per International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List, the Gila woodpecker is classified as a bird of Least Concern and there are no special conservation efforts surrounding them. However, within the state of California only, they are protected under the California State Endangered List.

This is because, during the 1980s '80s, a steep decline in the numbers of these North American birds was noticed. This is because places like the Sonoran Desert have another bird known as the European starling.

The European starling is a natural predator of the Gila woodpecker. Cutting down trees also threatens their habitats.

Gila Woodpecker Fun Facts

What do Gila Woodpeckers woodpeckers look like?

Males have a red crest on top.

Gila woodpeckers are extremely small birds with brown feathers. Their flight wings and tail have black and white striped feathers. While in flight, the underside of their wings which is white is also visible. The male of the species has a patch of bright red feathers on its head. The Gila woodpecker female does not show any such distinction.

How cute are they?

With their bright red crest, and black and white patterned wings but drab body color, they are among the less colorful wild birds found. However, a fluffy woodpecker in a desert landscape is still a cute sight.

How do they communicate?

The Gila woodpecker call includes a variety of vocal sounds, but they also use their beak to produce drumming sounds to declare their territory. Their vocal calls include chirps, cackles, and shrill cries. They produce a 'charr-charr' noise while fighting or chasing another bird.

How big is a Gila Woodpecker woodpecker?

The desert Gila Woodpecker may grow to 8-10 inches 8-10 in (20-25 cm) in length. They are the same size as their nemesis, the European starling.

How fast can a Gila 8-10 in (20-25 cm) fly?

Desert woodpeckers can achieve a mean speed of 5-7 m/s 11.2-15.7 mph (18-25.3 kph) while flying. The highest speed recorded was 15.2 m/s 34 mph (54.7 kph). On the whole, this is not really fast among birds.

How much does a Gila Woodpecker woodpecker weigh?

A Gila woodpecker weighs roughly 3.5 oz 2.4 oz (68 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

There is no separate name for the male and female of the species.

What would you call a baby Gila Woodpecker woodpecker?

A young Gila woodpecker is simply called a chick or fledgling.

What do they eat?

A Gila woodpecker's diet consists of small insects, seasonal fruits, fruits from the saguaro cactus, and mistletoe berries. Some of these North American birds have adapted to a diet in the city where they often source food from hummingbird feeders and dog food bowls.

Are they dangerous?

Not at all! They are extremely skittish birds and flutter away at the hint of a sound. They do not attack humans but may threaten one by flapping their wings if they come too close to a Gila woodpecker nest.

Would they make a good pet?

Being wild birds, they are protected under conservation and wildlife laws and it is illegal to keep them as pets. Moreover, wild birds are used to free reign and do not take kindly to humans.

Did you know...

The method by which these woodpeckers build their nest is quite interesting. They drill a cavity into a cactus plant for their nesting site.

The cactus bleeds sap to fill the wound. This keeps hardening and over a period of a few months forms a hardened 'boot'. These nesting sites are hence built way in advance and only used for the next breeding season.

Do Gila woodpeckers mate for life?

The Gila woodpeckers are among the bird species that are monogamous and mate for life. Some polyamorous relationships may also exist, but primarily the species is monogamous.

Do woodpeckers eat brains?

It is now known that some woodpeckers do feast on the brains of other birds, including chicks. This behavior is however not limited to woodpeckers only.

Many bird species may choose to eat other birds (same species or not) if there is no other food option available. As of now, that is the only explanation available based on the study conducted by some ornithologists. Since woodpeckers have a sharp pecking beak, they drill into the skull and eat the brain as well.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including the secretary bird and the great green macaw.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our woodpecker coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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Fact-checked by Shray Sharma

Bachelor of Technology specializing in Computer Science Engineering

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Shray SharmaBachelor of Technology specializing in Computer Science Engineering

As an aspiring web and app developer, Shray has a passion for working with promising startups. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Maharaja Surajmal Institute Of Technology while gaining experience in digital marketing. Shray has already earned a Google Analytics Certification and is well-equipped to handle analytics and data management tasks. He has also served as a marketing manager at Parallax Virtual Arts, where he oversaw the company's social media, content, and SEO strategies. Shray's goal is to create engaging content that resonates with audiences and offers valuable insights.

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