Arizona Woodpecker

Dryobates arizonae
Range Map

The Arizona Woodpecker was formerly called the Strickland’s Woodpecker and the Brown-Backed Woodpecker. The Strickland’s Woodpecker was split from the Arizona Woodpecker and is now restricted to a small range in south-central Mexico.

The primary range for this bird is the mountains of Western Mexico, but it is sometimes found in the Sky Islands of southern Arizona. These birds prefer pine-oak woodlands. Some authorities continue to place this species in the genus Picoides.

When foraging, these birds behave similarly to Brown Creepers; starting at the base of the tree and working their way up, before flying off to the base of the next tree on the menu.

Today, science recognises two subspecies of Arizona Woodpecker:

  • D. a. arizonae lives in the mountains of southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico, and south to northeastern Mexico.
  • D. a. fraterculus lives in western Mexico, from southeastern Sinaloa to northern Colima, southern Jalisco, and Michoacán.

My only encounter with this species came in Madera Canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains of Arizona. I’d never seen a brown woodpecker before. So many that I was more familiar with were predominantly black and white. These birds were milk-chocolate brown. I’ve read these birds are especially shy, especially during egg-laying time. I’d like to see more of them some day.


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