The charismatic and noisy Gila Woodpecker is found in the Southwest in southern Arizona, parts of California, Nevada, and into northeastern Mexico. They often nest in saguaro cactus but will use trees such as cottonwoods and willows
They drill cavities to create their nesting site, which serves as a home for a secondary cavity nester such as an Elf Owl in future seasons. Exceptionally aggressive, they will defend a large territory around their nest.
Why a Species of Concern
Listed as endangered in California, the Gila Woodpecker is a species of concern on the LCR MSCP (Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Program). Due to the loss of larger trees and large intact swaths of habitat along with competition from the introduced European Starling, the Gila Woodpecker has declined in California.
Once common and widespread, the estimated pairs in the 1970s were down to 500. GBBO estimates a similar number today, showing a population that remains stable. Gila Woodpeckers will likely be the last of the focal species to move into created conservation sites as they need aged, more extensive tree stands.